Archived Blogs (from the last 10 years)

Tribute Bands are the Thing, and West Palm has plenty… (Oct 11, 2019)

We want to continue our series of articles on local music, and this week we want to highlight a trend that’s not going away anytime soon.  Tribute bands – bands that closely emulate the sound and look of major artists – have been in vogue for a few years now.  And a newer trend among tribute bands is “package bands” – bands with similar sounds or from a similar era.

A band based here in Palm Beach County, and soon to play in West Palm is one of these bands that honor three different artists.

Dreams, Promises and Time (www.DreamsPromisesTime.com) plays the music of Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac, the music of Pat Benatar, and the music of Pink Floyd.  Seasoned professionals from a number of different bands have joined together to create this show that plays to the fans of the 70s and 80s.

It’s a bit amazing that today’s millennials love the music of this era to the degree they do. Fleetwood Mac has been selling out arenas across the country on their last tours (one of which is concluding in Las Vegas this fall), and even seasoned music critics are astounded at their resurgence in popularity.  Covers of Fleetwood Mac songs by some of today’s artists include HAIM, the Lumineers, Florence and the Machine, and Paramore, and have given this generation a taste of the great music that their parents (and grandparents?) lisened to in their youth.

American Idol viewers were treated to two performances this spring by Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, as they mentored two contestants on the show; and popular TV and Netflix series have often been featuring their music.

Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album holds the Billboard record for the longest tenure on their album chart (over 900 weeks), is Platinum 15x over and sales of the album place it at number  three or four all time worldwide, depending on who you ask.  Wikipedia notes, “Industry sources suggest that worldwide sales of the album total about 45 million. ‘On a slow week’ between 8,000 and 9,000 copies are sold, and a total of 400,000 were sold in 2002, making it the 200th-best-selling album of that year – nearly three decades after its initial release.”

At one performance of the above-mentioned tribute Dreams, Promises and Time, whose set list was tailored to an older crowd by request, and which only featured a couple of Pink Floyd songs, we were told that a pre-teen was requesting more Pink Floyd.

Many commercial shopping developments and communities have been putting on series of tribute bands for years now.  The City of West Palm Beach, a great promoter of music in general, has often featured tributes in their Sunday at the Waterfront series as well as some at their always-well-received Clematis by Night event nearly every Thursday.

With ticket prices of the original bands pushing above $100 a seat, and sometimes to four figures (and with some bands only having a few of the original members) it’s easy to understand the popularity of tributes, where you can hear the music you loved for free or for less cost than parking at the large concert venues…

Top 100 Things to DO DOwntown in 2015 (Jan 1, 2015)

While watching all of the “year in review” segments on TV and doing the annual maintenance on this great website, I noticed how many things were going on DOwntown and – more importantly – how many things that were going on DOWntown everyday that I missed this past year… They’re not things “missed” because they were gone like B.B. Kings or Brewzzi’s, but that  I missed taking part of, like the new waterfront jetski rentals or the downtown Segway tours. (On a side note, I heard the city finally found a sponsor for the much awaited hourly and daily DOwntown bicycle rentals.  I can’t wait.)

But let’s get back to the many things currently happening DOwntown and the things I’ve missed but plan to put on my list for 2015.  Well, I know I didn’t visit the History Museum this year and in all of my years living DOwntown I’ve never taken the Diva Duck tour so those two will go on the top of the list.  While updating the site, I also noticed I haven’t made it to Mortons in a while or Grease Burger for that matter.  I guess if the options aren’t right in front of me I just continue on my way to my regular DOwntown hangouts.  Even with operating a website with so many things to DO doesn’t remind me on a daily basis how many great options this city has to offer.  There are so many to track!

With DoWestPalm.com, we try to make it easy for the visitors and DOwntowners to find every option possible with just a couple of clicks of a mouse.  But I was wondering… what all the options would look like in the form of a list?  Sort of like a 2015  bucketlist where it’s all right there in front of you waiting to be checked off.  Is it possible to DO everything on the DoWestPalm.com website in a year?  Can I get through half?

Let’s see how many entries are currently on the site. 9 entries in the “Best Of” category, which includes Clematis By Night and the Green Market.  Those two are easy enough; I attend and enjoy them both every week.  That’s why they’re on the best of list.  Next there are 14 “Entertainment” entries from the Kravis Center to Sunday on the Waterfront.  I attended both in December so I don’t think I’ll have any issues there.  For me, the entertainment options are what define our DOwntown.  There are 14 Happy Hours, 30 Menus and 9 Things to DO. Sounds like a challenge but one that I’ll be more than happy to accept.

Okay, so this quick blog was a nice distraction from the tedious DO West Palm website update for 2015, but it got me thinking — not just how many thing to DO from our website that I have yet to enjoy, but how many things to DO that didn’t make our site (if you want to add your business, let us know).  We have close to 70 things to DO on our site, all in one place and just a click away.  70 things to do is a lot for this compact, walkable DOwntown but I don’t want to just challenge myself to get out and enjoy more of what this great city has to offer, I want to discover things to DO that I may not have even thought about of adding to the website yet.  70 things to do is great but 100 is even better and has a nice ring to it.  I feel a challenge coming on.  Just as in one of my last blogs There’s a SunFest size Music Fest Every Weekend in DOwntown West Palm  where the challenge was to prove and document 50 LIVE acts on any given weekend in DOwntown – just as there are during the largest water front music festival in Florida (Sunfest) –  I am going to list the TOP 100 Things to DO in this beautiful DOwntown of West Palm Beach.  And here it is (these aren’t ranked in order of preference):

Things to DO (Activities)

  • Waterfront Water Sports
  • Downtown Bike Taxi
  • South Cove Natural Area
  • I Scoot Moped Rentals
  • West Palm Beach Golf Course
  • Downtown Bicycle Rentals (coming soon!)
  • Clematis Street News Stand
  • The Palm Beach Zoo
  • South Florida Science Museum
  • Horse & Carriage Rides

Things to Do (Tours and Events)

  • Family Fun Fest
  • West Palm Beach Greenmarket
  • Downtown Antique & Flea Market
  • Diva Duck
  • Water Taxi
  • Segway Tours
  • Historical Trolley Tours
  • Historical Walking Tours
  • West Palm Beach History Museum
  • Screen on the Green

The Arts

  • Art & Wine on the Promenade
  • Uptown Art
  • Palm Beach Photographic Center
  • Legacy Fine Art
  • Habatat Galleries
  • Eaton Fine Art
  • Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens
  • Norton Museum of Art
  • Art After Dark
  • Palm Beach Dramaworks

Entertainment

  • City Place Fountain Concert Series
  • Clematis By Night
  • Sunday on the Waterfront
  • The Kravis Center
  • Palm Beach Improv
  • Muvico
  • Respectable Street
  • Lafayette Music Room
  • Sunfest
  • Revolutions Rock & Bowl

Pizza/Burgers/Wings

  • Clematis Pizza
  • City Pizza
  • Pizza Girls
  • Hot Pie Pizza
  • Mellow Mushroom
  • Nico’s Pizza
  • Grease Burger
  • Hamburger Heaven
  • Keese’s
  • Roxy’s

Salads/Seafood/Light Fare

  • Field of Greens
  • Nature’s Way Café
  • The ChickPea
  • Avocado Grille
  • Tin Fish
  • Makeb’s
  • Palm Beach Café
  • Backyard Bar
  • Longboards
  • The Vegan Cafe
  • The Bee Organics

International Cuisine

  • Palm Sugar
  • O’Shea’s Irish Pub
  • Kabuki
  • Thai Jo
  • Sweet Ginger
  • 100 Montaditos
  • Don Ramon
  • Mojito’s
  • Le Rendez-vous
  • Rocco’s Taco’s
  • Lynora’s Osteria
  • Saito’s Japanese Steakhouse

Dining

  • Duffy’s
  • Ruth’s Chris
  • Mortons
  • Il Bellagio
  • E.R. Bradley’s Saloon
  • Brio Tuscan Grill
  • Tequila Cowboy
  • Leila
  • Pistache
  • City Cellar

Coffee/Dessert

  • Café Sweets Bakery
  • Paneterie Bakery
  • Sugar Chef Cupcakes
  • Sub Culture
  • C-Street Cafe
  • Sloan’s Ice Cream
  • Rita’s Italian Ice
  • Paris Bakery
  • Tutti Fruti
  • 4D Gelateria

Drinks

  • The Pawn Shop
  • Wine Dive
  • The Alchemist
  • Hullabaloo
  • The Blind Monk
  • Blue Martini
  • Copper Blues
  • World of Beer
  • Off The Hookah
  • Bar Louie

Spa/Salons

  • Anushka
  • D. Laudati
  • Prado
  • Jasmine Day Spa (olive)
  • Blow (gardenia)
  • Revitalize
  • O!
  • J&D Nail Lounge
  • One XI Salon & Beauty Bar
  • Polished Nails
  • The Sanctuary (Dixie)
  • AG Hair Studio

So, I got carried away a little bit.  We don’t do anything halfway at DOWestPalm.com.  You may have noticed we broke DOwn the list of the TOP 100 Things to DO to 10 categories of 10.  That’s because I thought it would be fun to get everyone involved and start some voting.  Every entry may not fit exactly into the right category and some have more than 10 but it’s just easier to break the polls down to smaller groups.  If you don’t see your favorite thing to DO on the list, let us know.  If you want us to shed light on your business, restaurant, or event we are here to help. Just send us an email.

We will have a slightly new look to our site in 2015 and we will be adding a category for all of the spas and salons DOwntown has to offer.  DO West Palm also has some great deals for 2015!  For a limited time we are offering a front page slider for $25/month.  This puts you on the front page, in front of all our visitors looking for things to DO DOwntown.  We are here to help.  We live downtown and support DOwntown businesses on a daily basis.  Let’s work together to make 2015 the best year ever for DOwntown West Palm Beach!

Clematis Street, Top 10 Streets in America (Oct 5, 2014)

Clematis Street, DO West Palm’s favorite street has won a spot in the 2014 Top 10 Strets of America!  That’s right, OF AMERICA!  Wow!  Clematis Street shares the list with the likes of Pennslvania Avenue and Broadway.  How crazy is that?  We’re very lucky here in DOwntown to have so many choices for dining and enetertainment within 5 short blocks.  We’ve always known how great Clematis Street is, maybe now the world will hear more about it.

DOWestPalm.com has been a fan of Clematis Street since we started this website over 5 years ago.  This site actually started with a conversation outside the Clematis Street Newstand after a Clematis By Night concert.  We have been posting, blogging and tweeting every chance we get.  Mostly about the live music, of course.  It’s no secret that we are big fans of the live music on Clematis Street. There are so many venues, city sponsored concerts and block parties it’s hard to keep up.  Just last night Respectable Street celebrated it 27th anniversary with a 500 block, block party featuring 27 BANDS that wrapped up at 4am.  What other street can pull that off?  Only Clematis Street.  Did I mention the block party was Free?!

It could be the live music on Clematis Street and in the entire DOwntown district that separates Clematis from other streets and DOwntowns in America.  If it isn’t, it should be.  Live music plays a big part in the vibe of Clematis Street.  You can here live music from every corner.  On any average weekend  you have close to 50 free, live acts to choose from, many of them outdors with the beautiful South Florida breeze.  Music does get a mention in the Clematis Street Top 10 description but in this blog, the live music takes center stage

http://www.DoWestPalm.com/2014/05/22/music-festivals-every-weekend-in-downtown-west-palm/

It’s easy to see why Clematis Street won a spot in the Top 10 Best Streets of America.  There are so many things to DO DOwntown.  We’ve always said that Clematis Street and the entire DOwntown disctric is the perfect combination of the weather, the walkabilty, the waterfront and weekly live music like the Clematis By Night outdoor concert series every Thursday night.  When you have a city where all of those elements align, you’ve got  The Best Live Music Line Up in The World!

http://www.DoWestPalm.com/2013/03/11/the-best-live-music-line-up-in-the-world/

Spread the Word!!

There’s a SunFest size Music Fest Every Weekend in DOwntown West Palm (May 22, 2014)

It’s no secret we here at Do West Palm are huge supporters of live music, and we try to spread the word every chance we get about Downtown West Palm being “The Best Live Music Line Up in the World.”  It’s what we’ve been constantly promoting and the topic of a previous blog which highlights the number of DOwntown acts, the number of venues, and their proximity. It can be read here: http://www.dowestpalm.com/2013/03/11/the-best-live-music-line-up-in-the-world/

So I’m going to take this opportunity once again to applaud this city’s abundance of live music with a little comparison… actually, a big comparison. You see, last Friday I was out for a walk with a planned stop at the free Jazz on the Palm event and a goal of making it to City Place before 11 to see Jason Cardinal (don’t miss him next time he makes his way DOwntown). While walking up Clematis and down Rosemary I quickly realized that within that short walk I was able to peek in and hear songs from about 10 bands in less than 10 blocks. I know we’ve been promoting the amount of music this town offers within walking distance for years, but I started to wonder if a typical weekend of live music could rival the number of bands during the Sunfest weekend. Could we be in the middle of a music festival every weekend? DO festivals occur Downtown 52 times a year? The challenge was on. I had to document 50 bands over 5 days for the following weekend. Unfortunately, I just missed the weekend with Jazz on the Palm and Sunday on the Waterfront so I started 2 bands down.

To make it official, I challenged myself to produce a schedule prior to the weekend so that everyone could enjoy a holiday weekend full of music. Seems easy enough, right? All I’d have to do is spend 30 minutes on Google searching the acts that aren’t on our DoWestPalm.com site and plug the results into a spreadsheet. Well, it turns out it wasn’t that easy.   It took hours, over a couple of days with many phone calls, voicemails and no returned calls. I really don’t understand why a venue spends money and time booking and paying a band with the goal to bring in customers and does nothing to promote it. They not only don’t put it on the web, they don’t even know who’s playing when you call for the info.

I understand in the hectic service industry, posting calendars is not a big priority but it would be much easier for visitors, tourists, and live music fans to enjoy the offerings of this great city and the great venues if whoever is booking the bands could spend a little time promoting them. Hell, we can post the info for you.

For this town to truly become a live music destination like Austin, Athens, or Ashville our venues need to get the word out. The combination of multiple walkable venues and wonderful weather for both indoor and outdoor event all year round can rival any city as a live music destination.

If the venues need help, we’re here. Do West Palm has been in the middle of DOwntown music scene for years. We’ve been promoting the pros of this great city all along the way. We have up to 250 unique visitors to our website everyday of people looking for things to DO. With over 50 musical acts in any given weekend and our site’s commitment to live music, you can bet a lot of our site’s visitors are looking for who’s playing live music and where. This is a great city and live music is a big part of it. We just all have to work together to get the word out. 50 live bands within walking distance on any given weekend can’t be found in any average city…

Okay, I’ll get off the soapbox but putting this list together wasn’t as easy as it should have been. We are very lucky here in DOwntown West Palm with all of the live music options. We should be making multiple top 10 lists as one of the finest live music destinations in the US. We can make those lists and make Downtown a destination if everyone works together getting the word out, starting by letting people know who’s playing and where.

So does an average Downtown West Palm weekend have as many musical acts as Sunfest, the second biggest music festival in Florida? Yes it does and then some. Here it is. I’m calling it the Memorial Day Do West Fest. Be sure check out some of the bands, enjoy the Memorial Day and as always support live music whenever you can!

Wednesday

BB Kings Patio – Joe Birch

Copper Blues – The Leftovers

Backyard Bar – Joey George

Thursday

Palm Stage – Jessie Young (CBN)

Norton – Stephan Mikes

O’Shea’s – The Lahinch Mob

BB Kings – Albert Castillia

Copper Blues – Speechless

Wine Dive – Susan Merritt Band

Long Boards – Red Lyte and the Sound

Friday

O’Shea’s – The Lone Jennies

Revolutions – The Kinected

BB Kings – Candye Kane

BB Kings – BB King All Stars

Lucillie’s – Kat Riggins and Blue Train

Blue Martini – Higher Ground

City Place Stage – Samantha Russell

World of Beer – Paula Tolley

Copper Blues – Jamie Rasso

Copper Blues – Raine

Grease – Artikal Sound System

Tin Fish – David Goodman

Backyard Bar – Chase & Tyler

Tequila Cowboy – Tom Jackson

Wine Dive – GrooveBox

Meyer – Bootsey Collins

Meyer – Cameo

Meyer – Lakeside

Meyer – Morris Day and the Time

Meyer – Confunksion

Oli’s – Live Drums

Saturday

O’Shea’s – Rockslide

BB Kings – Turnstiles (Billy Joel)

BB Kings – BB King All Stars

Lucille’s – The Kinected

Blue Martini – Oro Blue

City Place Stage – Shakedown

World of Beer – Social Fly

Copper Blues – The New Planet

Grease – Raggy Monster

Tin Fish – Westminster Trio

Green Market – TBD

Oli’s – La Lina Band

Bar Louie – TBD

Sunday

BB Kings – Laura Vivas w/ BB Kings All Stars

ER Bradleys – Cheezy & The Crackers

ER Bradleys – Spred the Dub

Backyard Bar – Jason Hanley

Respectable Street – 80’s Prom/live band TBD

Roxy’s – Spazmatics

If you would like to promote your venue or band (if it is playing DOwntown) let us know.

The Heart of Rock and Roll is in … Country? Chase Stites certainly rocks… (June 21, 2013)

I’ve been in many “discussions” with my musical compatriots (and some family members) regarding the “demise” of Rock and Roll.  “There aren’t any good rock bands any more,” they bemoan.

I’ve been to a few rock concerts over many years, and a few country concerts in recent years, and I’ve come to appreciate the music I hear at these “country” concerts… I’ve heard multiple covers of Led Zeppelin, and covers of Aerosmith and other rock icons — good covers, no twang included.  While I like many of the current “sort-of-rock” bands, and am a big jam band fan, I’ve come to the conclusion that the new country bands are the ones playing rock and roll these days.

I was glad to hear the music of Chase Stites follows the “new country” “old rock and roll” model; Chase and his band followed up our favorite top 40 cover band Wonderama at CityPlace in a benefit for Oklahoma tornado victims.  Chase performed mostly originals, with great hooks and a tight, rockin’ band accompanying his fine vocals and acoustic guitar. Stites is a singer/songwriter to watch closely; while he’s got a lot of Nashville competition, he’s got the whole package: Great vocals, great band, great arrangements, great stage presence.

Chase looks like he might be a perfect fit for the soon-to-open Tequila Cowboy club in CityPlace (more on them soon!) with his great new country sound.  Here’s a sample of what he played downtown…

http://www.youtube.com/embed/sPoPkBgNRWQ

If you missed the concert you can still contribute to the Tornado Relief here.  And thanks to Chase and Wonderama (and all the others) for donating your time and skills!

Our Interview with the Smithereens’ Pat DiNizio — 30+ years rockin’ and they’re coming to West Palm (April 17, 2013)

We’re looking forward to the Smithereens concert this weekend (4/21/13) at the Sunday on the Waterfront series here in West Palm! We had to opportunity to interview Pat DiNizio from the Smithereens this week!  Here’s some of our conversation with Pat:

DWP:  It’s great to have you here in West Palm (thank you City of West Palm.)  Is this the Smithereens’ first time playing in West Palm Beach?

Pat:  We’ve played many of the colleges in South Florida, played shows in Hallandale and Miami, the University in Gainesville; we used to spend a week to 10 days hitting the colleges in South Florida and we probably played West Palm in one of those tours. We’re looking forward to this show this weekend.

The Smithereens have passed three decades with relatively little personnel changes (many of your peers are touring with a fraction of the original personnel).  Forgive me if I associate New Jersey with drama, but you don’t seem to reflect the usual rock and roll stress.  How did you avoid that as a band and stay a unit for so many years?

There were relationships and friendships that preceded the actual formation of the band; Jimmy, Dennis and Mike knew each other for years before the band was actually created.  They went to grade school together, so any personal issues that they may have had were worked out in the years before the band.

There was a mutual respect and love; I really can’t remember any serious conflict. There were probably some issues that bothered certain band members but they were unspoken because we always put the band and what we were attempting to achieve with the band ahead of any individual concerns.  There were times that maybe you wanted to say something but you didn’t speak out because, as my Mom used to tell me when I was a kid, “Son, make a speech in anger and it’ll be the sorriest speech you ever made.” And I think that everybody in the group believed that, and we just cared about each other too much to insult each other, and create a situation that would force someone to give someone else an ultimatum or leave the band.

And that was so radically different that virtually every other band I had been in previous to this. I’d been playing in bands for years before and they never lasted; you could never get everybody to agree on anything, and someone would feel slighted or get bored and quit, and they’d be on to the next thing.  In the case of the Smithereens, we rehearsed virtually every night in my Dad’s basement here in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, where I still live, and it took us six years to get a record deal, so there was a unique chemistry happening then and now. Here we are, 33 years later; March 2013 was the 33rd anniversary of the band.  And did I add?  We have no job skills for anything else at this point? [Chuckles]

And you’ve been touring and producing records for all those years, correct?

There was really no self imposed hiatus [in producing records] but we reached the point of critical mass in that nobody wanted to put out our records. We’d had a great, 10 year, non-stop run of activity and non-stop touring, playing 300 gigs a year, living on the bus, having hit record after hit record after hit record.  And then grunge hit and the bottom fell out of our career and we had to hold on, and we held on, and we held on, and eventually our audience came back.  Those same nice folks that gave us a career and a life worth living came back because their kids were now in college. Their kids were out of the house, and they [their parents] always loved rock and roll.  What the kids don’t understand is that their parent’s generation that grew up on rock and roll, inside they’re still 16 or 17 and they still love to go out and listen to loud rock and roll.  But when you get married and have children and have a real job in the real world some things take priority and you become less active as a record buyer and a concert goer.  We’ve found though sheer persistence we’ve been able to continue to do what we do, thanks to the support of these folks, and it’s nice to still be here.

It looks like you’ll have a great summer and have an opportunity to renew your roots and expose your music to some new ears with your dates with Tom Petty.  It sounds like a match made in heaven. 

Yes, we’ve got six dates with them so far; I’ve had a lot of comments on my Facebook page about how it’s the perfect double bill, and in a sense it is, for those folks that grew up with the music of Mr. Petty and the Smithereens.  I can remember when I was writing our third Capitol Records release, Smithereens 11; I had a copy of Tom’s album “Full Moon Fever,” with the great song “Won’t Back Down,”  and we both had hits on the charts at the same time.

It’s such a wonderful opportunity and we’re very, very grateful to him for making the phone call and asking to have the Smithereens play with him.

Have you played any shows with Petty before?  

We haven’t played with Tom before, but we’ve toured with Bon Jovi, with the Pretenders, the Ramones, Lou Reed, Los Lobos, UB40; the list goes on and on. We had arena dates with ZZ Top; we’ve played with literally everyone.  We’ve done festival dates with Hank Williams, Jr. and Ted Nugent, opened for Bruce Springsteen, you name it, we’ve done it.  It seems that if you’re around long enough and if you survive long enough you’re going to wind up playing shows with everybody in every conceivable situation.

One of my favorite tracks on your latest album – 2011 – is “World of Our Own.”  It seems like a bit of the Beatles meets Pink Floyd with very atmospheric background vocals and interesting progressions.  One commentator alluded to some early progressive rock work by members of the band. What are those roots, and do those prog rock roots have a factor in this song or others by you?

I grew up listening to Pink Floyd, actually saw the Dark Side of the Moon tour; I can’t say that I’m a fan of all of their records, but we grew up listening to that and early Genesis with Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, and Yes. I know Chris Squire very well and it’s an honor to know someone whose music and playing meant so much to me as a kid.  It’s a part of my musical DNA.

[Regarding “A World of our Own]  I think you’re right; that’s a great and very complementary description of “A World of Our Own.”  That’s my favorite track from the album and I think it’s the best track on the album.  It’s got power, melody, real emotion, and a decent set of lyrics to it.  Is it a radio hit?  I don’t think so, nor do I care.  It might have been back in the old days.

The harmonies on that record and really, across the board with the Smithereens are right on.

I think that [Smithereens 2011] contains everything musically that we are.

How did you achieve that great guitar sound intro to “Bring Back the One I Love” on your latest album? 

That overdub part was Jimmy playing through– I think–one of those tiny Danelectro amps with a six inch speaker; he put it up on a countertop and our producer Don Dixon put a mic up to it and that’s it.  I think it was a Telecaster though the Danelectro, without a lot of processing, and we are fans of just plugging the guitar into the amplifier; that’s what we do live and that’s what we do in the studio.  That song and he majority of the Smithereens 2011 record was first takes.

You’ve played a bunch of different guitars through the years, but it seems that you’ve settled on Fenders.  Are you all exclusive to Fender guitars?   How do you get that great guitar sound live? 

Fenders are our main choice on stage, as well as a guitar we frequently go to in the studio; I’m very comfortable with my Fender Buddy Holly Stratocaster; I’ve used that guitar, but I’m comfortable with my John Lennon Rickenbacker, and Jimmy’s comfortable with his Rickenbacker also.  It’s really whatever guitar gets the job done. When we recorded “Green Thoughts,” our second album, everybody thought the guitars were Rickenbacker through Marshall Amps which we used live (and which was unusual ‘cause no one played Rickenbackers through Marshalls)  but in the studio we had Strats, Guilds, Rickenbacker guitars and basses; we had 40 guitars in the studio back then, but we don’t use as many now…

You did a few cover albums which really allow you to show your versatility and skills.  I was especially impressed with your cover of the Who’s Tommy; not an easy feat instrumentally, and you gentlemen did a splendid job… and your covers of the Beatles show you can nail those incredible harmonies with silky ease. The engineering and production work is great also, especially on the Tommy album.  And it’s great to listen to those Beatles songs rendered with 21st century recording tools.

What made you decide to cover Tommy? 

We had a 10 year period with the record industry in disarray, the effects of Napster and the terrible idea that music should be free and not paid for, unlike your groceries and the car you drive; after all, it is the composer and the band’s intellectual property.  No one wanted to pay a band to make a record unless you were 20 years old, but we’d had a long walk in the sun and we stayed with it. I went to the last label we’d had a record with and presented an idea for the Smithereens doing the Beatles which turned into a reimaging of the Beatles first album.  It was really successful – it broke download records on iTunes – and it put us on the front page of the New York Times leisure section on Sunday, so they let us do a Christmas album, another Beatles tribute and the live album.  I did a solo Buddy Holly tribute, but we really wanted to do a brand new studio album and that’s what our supporters and fans wanted to hear.  The label, though, figured there was a built in market for tribute albums, and they’re not wrong about that, so I came up with the idea that, since the 40th anniversary of Tommy was coming up in 2009, we should say something– let’s have the Smithereens cover Tommy.  The record label went nuts over it, green lighted it immediately.  My fellow band members, though, felt we’d already pushed the envelope too far, so when I went back to the label and told them we weren’t all on board, they asked what “will it take for you to do Tommy?”  And I said, “If you finance and release a brand new Smithereens original album we’ll do it,” and they (to my amazement) went for it.  We gave them Tommy, and we created Smithereens 2011, now we’re on to the next original album.

I came up with the concept for the Tommy album and sold it to the label, but it’s mostly the product of Jimmy and Dennis.  It’s unique in that it’s not a note for note recreation, but it’s more like the Who’s Live at Leed’s meets Tommy. And Live at Leeds is the best live album ever made.  In concert the Smithereens do a song “The House We Used to Live In,” and we created a musical scenario that in the live version is very close to what the Who did with Live at Leeds; it’s an 8-9 minute version of a two minute song, and probably as close to anything on Live at Leeds that you’ll hear a contemporary band do.

As a band you’ve seen the music industry transform to something almost unrecognizable from when you started.  How do you feel about a digital world without Tower Records, and the necessity of focusing more on touring than on producing records (if you’ve found that so)?

I don’t think that anyone’s making a lot of money touring either; expenses have gone up and no one’s getting paid any more for doing live shows.  I don’t know how to do anything else at this point in my life, or nor do I much want to.  We just will keep pushing, keep going.  There’s no choice, not for someone who’s committed.  I was destined to do this through good times and bad times.

And you’re working on a new album?

We’re writing it now; we haven’t gone in the studio yet, but it will be out by Christmas of this year.  Our manager has his own record label through Universal so we don’t have to worry about distribution or release, and it a lot easier to make records these days.  We did the overdubs for our last record in my living room after laying down the basics in the studio.  We used to love living in the studio making a record; now I love staying home and doing concerts on the road.  I don’t like being in a studio 24/7 anymore; I think you go in and work intuitively, go where your mind takes you.  I like doing records at home, since the technology enables us to do it.  And Inexpensively.  That being said, it doesn’t mean that everyone should be making records.  The market is glutted with stuff that sounds good – ear candy – but it doesn’t mean that it is good as far as song construction and playing.  There’s a lot of things you can do to hide ineptitude, like Auto Tune and stuff like that.  That’s out of the question, in our world, anyway.

Again, we’re excited to see your show here in West Palm.  Do you have any final thoughts?

I never have any final thoughts on anything; my thoughts are ongoing, we never use the word final [laughing]. I don’t like it when you’re on a plane, and they say “your final destination;” I’d like them to choose their words a little more carefully, please!  We’ll see you at the show this weekend!

The Best Live Music Line Up in the World (Mar 11, 2013)

The City of West Palm Beach:

The Best Live Music Line Up in the World

When it comes to cities with live music scenes, the City of West Palm Beach is one of those special places where everything lines up perfectly.  With over 200 free outdoor concerts and an additional 2,000 free acts a year, not only does the City of West Palm Beach have more live music than your typical city twice its size, it has perfect weather, a redesigned waterfront built for music, and over 25 live music venues all within walking distance.

The City of West Palm Beach’s vast live music highlights include an award winning free weekly outdoor concert series, the largest waterfront music festival in Florida, the longest running live music club in the Southeast and venue after venue covering Rock and Roll, Blues, Jazz, Indie, Country, Reggae and more all within a closely knit downtown entertainment district.  The City’s music scene may be a best-kept secret among locals but with new live music venues opening every cople of months, the word is quickly getting out.  For fans of live music and those that love to play it, downtown West Palm Beach will soon be on everyone’s set list (if it isn’t already) and here’s why:

The Weather

When you’re talking about a City with over 200 outdoor acts a year, multiple outdoor venues and the freedom to walk back and forth to over 25 live music venues and clubs, you have to have some pretty nice weather to back it up and in West Palm Beach the weather  shines!   The Downtown waterfront weather is nearly perfect year round with an annual average temperature of 75.  Combine the great temps with a nice ocean breeze and it doesn’t get any better.  It’s an outdoor music lover’s paradise.

The Walking

The City of West Palm Beach has so many live music, dining and entertainment options packed into a half mile radius, it’s really hard to know where to start.  The best tpart is, if you want to enjoy more than one in a single evening, you can easily walk right next door and catch an entirely different act and experience a completely different scene.  From the Delta Blues at B.B. Kings to an authentic Irish pub at O’Shea’s, there’s a scene and a sound for everyone.

The City of West Palm Beach is known as a very walkable city and rates an 95 from walkscore.com.  There is live music everywhere you turn.

Most of the live music happens either on Rosemary or Clematis streets but there are also some small gems scattered in between, like The Blind Monk on Evernia or some large treasures right off Flagler like the Norton Museum and their Art After Dark music/art series.  Regardless, every live music venue mentioned in this article is within walking distance of one another or accessible via free downtown trollies.

A walk to more formal evening concert at the Kravis Center could include a show by Greg Allman, Steve Miller, Buddy Guy or The Moody Blues.  A casual stroll to the outdoor patio of the Backyard Bar for an informal night gives you the finest local musicians (and an occasional national artist sitting in) playing under the stars.  You can head over to B.B. Kings for some of the best in rock and blues or walk down Clematis Street for some country music at Grease Burger Bar.

Whatever your appetite or musical preference, it can be found with just a short walk from one block to another.  It’s all about people getting out of their cars, enjoying the weather,  walking around and having a good time.  That’s what sets this city apart from the rest and when you add the unbelievable number of outdoor concerts, it’s in a league all by itself.  Every city has bars and clubs and West Palm Beach definitely shines in that category (more on that later) but it’s the numerous outdoor venues that set this city apart from the rest, and that all begins on the waterfront.

The Waterfront

The City of West Palm Beach is right on the intercoastal overlooking the Legendary Breakers Hotel and The Historic Flagler Museum. The location of this great city only adds to the live music vibe and the newly designed waterfront is where most of the free, outdoor music happens.  Yes, I said free.  The redesigned waterfront was to some extent a necessity to host large events such as Sunfest, a 30 year, downtown tradition held over 5 days in May with 3 stages of live music and over 50 bands making it the largest waterfront music festival in Florida.  See, this city was literally built for live music!

The City of West Palm Beach spends a lot of time making sure its residents are having a good time and that’s never more evident than the numerous city sponsored concerts and their long history of supporting live music.  Every week the City of West Palm Beach, with the help of local sponsors, hosts at least one free outdoor music event for its residents and visitors of the waterfront.  Sometimes, if the stars line up, there are 3 or more free, live, outdoor music events sponsored by the City of West Palm in one week!

The most famous City sponsored event, and my favorite is the award winning concert series known as Clematis by Night or CBN to the locals.  Every week talented South Florida and touring musician play for 3 hours on Thursday nights all year round for an outdoor block party that brings everyone together to wind down and catch up.  Not only is it a weekly staple for the locals but it attracts our friends from the island, tourists from up north and the boats passing by utilizing the free docks (also part of the waterfront redesign).  You never know who’s going to take the CBN stage.  Special guests have included Vince Neil, Natasha Bedingfield and Cassedee Pope.

CBN is another perfect line up.  You have the music, the weather, tasty food from local restaurants, and adult beverages from the beer and wine tent.  Yes, another great thing about The City of West Palm Beach is that,  if you act like an adult, they’ll treat you like one.  Since most people are walking, you’re free to enjoy a drink or two (or three) outdoors, in pubic,  listen to great live music and dance in the streets.  Take my word for it, the dancing is a show in itself and must be witnessed first hand.

But it doesn’t stop there.  The City of West Palm Beach organizes several other music events on the water.  Sunday on the Waterfront, also known as Sunday at the Meyer.  This is another great free monthly daytime outdoor music concert series, where everyone is invited to pack a basket and bring their blanket for an afternoon of music from local and national acts such as Sister Hazel, Edwin McCain, The Smitereens and The Romatics.  It’s a good time for all, kids and dogs included.  The City also hosts Jazz on the Palm, a free monthly Friday evening outdoor Jazz concert with some of the most talented jazz musicians around.  The City even has live music at the weekly Saturday Green Market.  If this doesn’t show a commitment to making a mark as a live music destination, I don’t know what does.

And then there’s Sunfest, the largest waterfront music festival in Florida.  30 years strong, Sunfest was once another small free downtown event that grew to become one of the country’s premire festivals.  It is now a 5 day music festival hosting 50 national acts on three stages and takes place downtown, in the middle of the action on the redesigned waterfront.  A pre-sale 5 day pass is only $55, an unbelievable value.  That’s only $1.10 a band!  Past performers included Snoop Dogg, Jason Mraz, ZZ Top, Counting Crows, Herbie Hancock and Ziggy Marley, Train, Jimmy Cliff, and The Smashing Pumpkins.  The 2014 lineup includes Kid Rock, Ellie Goulding and Robin Thicke.  There is something for everyone and hands down the best music festival deal around.

Weekly Live Music!

A short walk from the waterfront is City Place, an open-air, downtown entertainment destination with over 100 shops, restaurants and several live music options which we’ll discuss later; but another outdoor venue worth mentioning is the City Place Plaza Stage.  The newly designed Plaza covered stage hosts free, outdoor, live music, year round on every Friday and Saturday nights and special event national acts throughout the year which have included Gloriana, Scotty McCreery and Andy Grammer, all free of charge!  The stage is set right in the middle of the shopping and the restaurants and is a true gathering point as the sun sets for those wanting to enjoy some live music and dance off their dinner.  The Plaza is in front of a fabulous fountain that is choreographed to lights and music every hour on the hour when the stage is dark.  That’s right, they’ve even thought of music when designing the fountain.

If you add up the free city and locally sponsored, annual, outdoor live music events on the waterfront, the City Place weekend concert series, and throw in the 50 Sunfest acts, you have over 250 live outdoor musical acts a year and 200 of them are free!  The best part of all is that they are all within walking distance, they are all outdoors and they are all year long!!!! It’s truely a perfect Line Up.

That brings us to the Entertainment district itself.  The dedication and effort that The City of West Palm Beach shows on a daily basis to a providing a good time through live music has both laid the foundation and raised the bar.  In order for the private sector to be a part of the excitement and offer alternatives and options to the growing music scene, they must support live music as much so or even more than the city itself.  A tall order but in DOwntown West Palm, they’ve done it.  It works and it works well.

There are over 25 live music venues from an outdoor patio to a rooftop overlooking the city,  from a loft over a bar to the floor of a museum next to fine art, from a 2,000 seat concert hall to a stage built on a bar back, and everything in between.  There are so many venues DOwntown that my next blog will be entirely about the venues.

The City of West Palm Beach is a committed supporter in making DOwntown West Palm Beach a true destination for live music.  Where else can you enjoy over 200 free, live, outdoor music options a year, throughout the year?  Where are over 25 venues all within walking distance on only two main downtown streets?  Where else is the live music scene affordable with thousands of free acts a year and venue after venue with no cover.  Where else do you have the variety of some of the finest, rock, blues, country, indie, progressive and reggae all in one downtown destination?  The answer is DOwntown West Palm

It’s clear that the City of West Palm Beach is one of the finest, soon to be discovered live music scenes in the country.  Everything aligns perfectly, the weather, the walking, the waterfront and weekly affordable live music.  That’s why the City of West Palm Beach has “The Best Live Music Line Up in the World”

Come see for yourself!

The City of West Palm Beach:

The Best Live Music Line Up in the World

The Weather, The Walking, The Waterfront and Weekly Live Outdoor Music!

The New DO West Palm Weekly Calendar of Live DOwntown Music (Mar 2, 2013)

There is so much LIVE music available DOwntown that it’s hard to keep track of it all.  We thought this quick link may help.

Live Daily Music

This is a work in progress and we will constantly update the list as we get information but as you can clearly see, there are close to 200 live acts a month, mostly all for free, all within walking distance, taking place on every day of the week.  With 3 new live music venues set to open, there could easily be over 250 live music events a month, making DOwntown West Palm a LIVE music destination on par with Cities twice its size.  Someone should do a blog about that.

Stay tuned!

Monday

*B.B. Kings Open Mic Blues Jam, no cover
B.B. Kings Patio (Blues/Slide) *seasonal, no cover
Mellow Mushroom (Acoustic), no cover
Longboards (Reggae), no cover
Tequilla Cowboy TBD
Copper Blues TBD
Brass Tap TBD

Tuesday

*Blind Monk Acoustic,no cover
Lucille's, no cover
B.B. Kings Patio (Blues/Slide) *seasonal, no cover
Tequila Cowboy TBD
Copper Blues TBD
Brass Tap TBD

Wednesday

Grease Whiskey Wednesdays (Country), no cover
*Backyard Bar, Blues, outdoors, no cover
Mellow Mushroom Acoustic, no cover
Hyatt Place
Lucille's, no cover
B.B. Kings Patio (Blues/Slide) *seasonal, no cover
Tequilla Cowboy TBD
Copper Blues TBD
Brass Tap TBD

Thursday

**Clematis By Night  Outdoor, Free
O'Shea's  Rock, Blues, Irish, no cover
Blue Martini Pop, R&B
Lucille's, no cover
Mojito's Latin, no cover
Art After Dark-Norton Museum
Telqulla Cowboy TBD
Copper Blues TBD
Brass Tap TBD

Friday

City Place Plaza Stage Outdoors, Free
B.B. Kings Opener, All Star Band, cover
Blue Martini Pop, R&B
Jazz on the Palm, Outdoors, Free
Grease Rock and Roll, no cover
O'Shea's Variety, no cover
*Backyard Bar Rock and Roll, Blues, no cover
Mojito's Latin, no cover
Hyatt Place Variety, no cover
World of Beer Rock and Roll, Variety, no cover
Tin Fish (upstairs)Variety, no cover
Respectable Street, Concert Schedule and cover varies
Telqulla Cowboy TBD
Copper Blues TBD
Brass Tap TBD

Saturday

City Place Plaza Stage Outdoors, Free
B.B. Kings Opener, All Star Band, cover
Lucille's Dueling Piano's
Blue Martini Pop, R&B
Grease Rock and Roll, no cover
O'Shea's Variety, no cover
Mojito's Latin, no cover
World of Beer Rock and Roll, Variety, no cover
Tin Fish (upstairs)Variety, no cover
Respectable Street, Concert Schedule and cover varies
Telqulla Cowboy TBD
Copper Blues TBD
Brass Tap TBD

Sunday

Mojito's Latin, no cover
*Sunday on The Waterfront, Outdoors, Free
B.B. Kings Opener, All Star Band, cover
Lucille's Acoustic, no cover
Blue Martini Reggae
Roxy's Rooftop, Spazmatics!
Telqulla Cowboy TBD
Copper Blues TBD
Brass Tap TBD

*a DoWestPalm.com favorite

World class performers at a small (but world-class venue): The Backyard Bar with Jonathan Edwards and Blues Dragon

You just never know what you’re going to run into when you explore the downtown West Palm music scene.  We stopped into the Backyard Bar on Rosemary to listen to one of our favorite blues acts – Blues Dragon – (sized down for this venue) and Jonathan Edwards sat to play harmonica for a couple songs and sing one (his son-in-law sat in on guitar for one song also).  Unfortunately our Zoom was low on batteries so we couldn’t capture more, but the music was a treat.  Edwards is headlining the Kravis tonight (he’s famous for his song, “Sunshine,” among others) but we got to hear a preview of this great artist performing with some of our fantastic local musicians.  We are constantly amazed at what a rich music scene is here in these few blocks of downtown West Palm, and it’s soon to expand significantly with the addition of four more music venues at CityPlace this year.  Watch this blog space for a feature article coming up on the future of West Palm as a music destination rivaling Austin, Nashville, and other more recognized Mecca’s for live music!

Jonathan Edwards https://youtu.be/FnkV-qRJEyA

Blues Dragon

Monday Blues Night is back at BB Kings West Palm! Blues Master Bobby Nathan hosting open mic! (Jan 21, 2013)

Stopped into BB Kings late last Monday to check out the revived Monday Night Blues Jam and was pleasantly surprised to see they’ve even managed to improve on what was an excellent venue last year.

  • The venue is the “big room,” which has the best backline equipment and PA in West Palm.  What other venue has a Hammond B3 for open mic night?
  • Vince and the Phat Cats did a great job last year, but Bobby Nathan looks to top even Vince, with guests like Muggy Doo on B3 and a rhythm section comparable to the Phat Cats.
  • The night is billed as “Blues Jam,” which should keep some other genres less palatable to blues lovers off the stage.
  • No cover, and  50 cent wings all night long.  A good selection of draft beer as well.

No band practice for me this Monday, so look for some video on the DoWestPalm YouTube channel later this week!

There’s some interesting developments at CityPlace you’ll want to keep an eye on… CopperBlues (going into the space formerly Wet Willies) promises live music.  The club looks to be the second in the franchise, and it appears that the Phoenix club it’s modeled after (despite the name) focuses on rock music (the Phoenix club has comedy nights; will this one try to compete with the Improv?).   The BrassTap going in downstairs promises music and beer on the scale of World of Beer, and Tequila Cowboy is going to offer country music.  And the Bowling alley (Revolutions) is also supposed to have live music.

Downtown West Palm is looking even better as a live music scene!

Jam night at BB Kings

Ian Anderson, the Minstrel In the (Kravis) Gallery, proves Progressive Rock is Alive.

If the crowd at the Kravis Wednesday night is any indication, Prog Rock — even the more traditional forms, with folk and classical elements — is not nearly close to dead.  The hall was sold out, and the few empty seats were hard to spot.  Anderson, the Jethro Tull frontman, was performing the parody piece for the first time in over 35 years, for the 40th anniversary of its introduction.  And his sequel, Thick as a Brick 2 (TAAB 2) was even better executed than the original, and had just as many innovative hooks (and crooks) as its predecessor.  Just as Billboard said in their review of the new album, “there are still vital sonic statements to be made within the old-school prog-rock realm.”

Anderson put together a new suite of younger musicians, along with an actor — Ryan O’Donnell —  that nearly duplicated Anderson’s vocals for those sections that require both flute and voice.  (O’Donnell’s twitter profile says he’s a “Singing…. little….. idiot. currently on tour with jethro tull / Ian Anderson.”)  Anderson not only used O’Donnell for vocal coverage, he used his considerable acting skills to effectively double the animation usually brought to a Tull show by Anderson.   [Additional note: O’Donnell had performed in the Pete Townsend stage performance of Quadrophenia with Anderson’s touring keyboardist John O’Hara.  Not surprising, he’s been playing in bands since the age of 16.]

The rest of Anderson’s touring band was more than up to the difficult material;  Florian Opahle is the youngest in the band, but ripped off the guitar licks with an alacrity comparable to the legendary Martin Barre.  The bass (David Goodier) and drums (Scott Hammond) played the complex rhythms in absolute lockstep but still both shone brightly in their respective solo roles, doing more than justice to the original recordings.   John O’Hara, master of the piano, keyboards and accordion, opened the encore with a skilled prelude to Locomotive Breath, up to par with his phenomenal rendering of the stratospheric Hammond organ solos in Thick as a Brick.

Anderson’s flute playing has not diminshed in skill one whit, and both his flute work and vocals excelled beyond my expectations in the second half of the night (TAAB2).   I think he was saving his “best for last,” since that material was new to many of the attendees.  The sequel gave no ground up to the original in composition or performance.

The performance was as much a show as a concert, with multimedia support not imagined and dramatic nuance not utilized for the original work forty years ago. The sound was impeccable, even in the high reaches of the balcony, and the Kravis provides clear and unobstructed views from all the seats.  Why the venue did not have all the bars open for a sellout house is a puzzle, however. I’m sure many patrons were still in the extremely long lines to the bar that were open when the lights began to dim for the second half of the show.

Anderson originally composed Thick as a Brick as a parody of the 70’s “prog rock” music scene, but the epic piece became a cornerstone of progressive rock music for decades; though I had seen Tull in the 70’s, they just performed a snippet of the 40+ minute work. It was an incredible privilege to be able to hear it live.

Anderson and troop are playing in Fort Pierce the 25th and some seats were still available as of this writing… if you’re a fan of Jethro Tull, it’s a show not to be missed!  (Anderson is also playing the Orlando area and Ft. Myers before leaving the state.)

— Kenneth Burton, for DoWestPalm.com

Prog Rock, Music Legends, Great Country, Essential Blues in Downtown West Palm… (Sep 18, 2012)

Just wanted to throw up a few words here to highlight some of the great music this week and the last few in West Palm (and point to some of the videos we shot).

Coming up tomorrow (9/19) is Ian Anderson performing the classic Thick As A Brick and his sequel TAAB2.   We’ve been pestering the management at the Kravis to get us some decent seats in exchange for our flowery praise we always give their venue, but they haven’t returned our calls yet for this show!

Last Sunday night Samantha Russell and a pared-down band was at Roxy’s 10-2  featuring Steve Weisberg, John Denver’s guitar player and a legendary multi-instrumentalist and songwriter.

We found out about this at the last moment and tweeted it out to our followers; still it seemed that there was a fair crowd there.  Russell’s vocals shined (as they alway do) and her excellent band was well complemented by Weisberg’s great dobro playing.

Another great source of great country music is Grease on Wednesdays; we recently heard another great female vocalist — Cecilia Lauren — doing some great covers with her band.

Visit our YouTube Channel (http://YouTube/DoWestPalm) for more videos by Samantha and Cecilia; we’re grateful that Grease and other establishments (CityPlace, etc.) are committed to bringing some great country music downtown…

And one of our favorite blues bands — Blues Dragon — was at the Backyard Bar, downsized for the small space, but still doing great blues music as a three piece.  Especially impressive (to us drummers) was the ZenDrum used there by their drummer,  “Rico” Gerari.  Check out the great job he does with his guitar-like drum midi controller.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/lIDOTKVpeXk

Sorry about the poor video quality, but it’s an “intimate” setting and doesn’t have much for lights on the band.  The new location for the bandstand is much better than where it has been in the past, however.

Make sure you like our FaceBook page and/or follow our Twitter feed for more great info on music, meals, and more in Downtown West Palm!

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