Category Archives: Music

Free URself at Paisley Park

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Free URself at Paisley Park

“Be glad that you are free / Free to change your mind / Free to go most anywhere, anytime.”

These lyrics from the beautiful and poignant “Free” have not left my mind since Thursday night. I’m writing to share my perspectives and thoughts of this perfect and most magical evening. I hope you enjoy.

PRE-SHOW

Prince’s “Gala Event” at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN was all of what you’d consider a Gala Event to be and more. I live outside the Twin Cities, so the 45-minute drive was nothing as compared to those who came, literally, across the world to see Our Purple One. When the event was announced 3 weeks beforehand (versus several day’s notice), I knew this was going to be something different, unique—something unexpected. But this evening was above and beyond anyone’s expectations.

My wonderful husband and fellow Prince fan accompanied me to the elusive Paisley Park Studios. It never fails–about 5 miles away I begin to smile, my body temperature rises and my stomach is filled with small, happy butterflies. The place I only imagined being inside when I was 15, the place where magic occurs, the place where iconic music is created–*I* was about to enter through its doors. Although this wasn’t my first time there, arriving each time is like your first.

I splurged for VIP tickets to the event (I mean, if you’re going to go, go big!). Having no idea what was in store for us upon arrival, the tears started welling up as we entered the parking lot. Not only did we get front row parking during a January winter in Minnesota (thank you, Prince!), but we were welcomed by the best staff ever. Smiles on their faces, welcoming us there, not rushing us through like most club attendants. I stopped at the gates per their request. My mood changed for the worst, as I thought it was to inspect our cars for safety. Every time I go through this exercise, no matter where it is, it makes me sad. “Why do we have to live this way?” I thought. “Even at Paisley Park, the Mecca of Love, there’s still a bit of fear.” BUT, my mood immediately shifted when I found out I was absolutely WRONG! Not only were our cars not being checked for suspicious items, but we were presented with GIFTS from the Man himself!

Through the passenger side window, a huge, round, purple box filled with surprises was handed to us. All I could do was cover my mouth so I didn’t scream and scare everyone involved. “He gave us gifts!” I squealed to my husband, holding back tears. The roller coaster ride of Love had begun.

Luckily, we only had to drive a few more feet as I think I was holding my breath. “What could be in there?” I thought. “All we needed was a VIP pass.” Once we carefully removed the event poster and the new Hit n Run Phase Two CD off the cover, inside the box we found a bunch of fun, fan merch—a Musicology CD, a tour t-shirt (all random per box) and our VIP passes placed gently on top. Crinkled, purple paper confetti strands made it even more special. I don’t think I will ever get rid of that box.

All of a sudden I noticed it wasn’t as cold as it had been when we started our journey. I was breathing in the chilly, Paisley winter air allowing it to give me renewed energy. As we approached the doors, the staff all dressed in purple once again welcomed us with smiles. Relaxed and happy, we entered Paisley Park. The positive energy is palpable there and all you want to do is talk to people.. or hug them. Everyone was buzzing with excitement and time stood still. I showed my husband a bit of the foyer area and the iconic Prince motorcycle as we made our way to the VIP lounge. Food and drink were placed out for us. Impeccable. We took a seat at one of the huge Alice in Wonderland velvet chairs and enjoyed the surroundings. All the food was on point (Chips and Guac, Red Beans and Rice, Mac n Cheese, etc.) and I felt honored and blessed to be there. It was hard not to think we were the only VIPs with the way we were treated in the first 15 minutes.

As it was approaching 7pm, the doors to the main room were about to open for VIP seating. All of us were anxious and excited to get in, making sure we got a great seat. As Prince promised the week before, there really wasn’t a bad seat in the house with the major updates of the space. Whether it was the scattered throw pillows up front, side stage, center, VIP couches or standing, the intimate venue made it awesome for all. Even if you were on the right side of the stage, you may not have been able to see his face much, but you could watch him play his beautiful, purple piano. I switched seats to a center spot after getting those first, but as a musician myself, I’m thinking we should have stayed stage left so I could watch his fingers glide, almost not touching the keys. Lesson learned.

As we were all getting settled, everyone wanted to chat. With no cellphones in hand to call, text, or take selfies, we were left to our own devices. It’s actually a relief to not have the technology there. I always think back to concerts back in the day, when cell phones weren’t even available yet. We talked, chatted, wondered about the set list and hoped for a great show. We lost track of time. It was time to get closer to friends, make new ones and share in the excitement. Yeah, Prince knows what he’s doing.

An hour or so went by and the natives were getting restless, but just as it was getting a bit louder, a voice over the PA alerted us that the last shuttle was on its way and that Prince would be waiting for them to arrive. Pure class. We didn’t have to wait long and not being worried about the time and if our show would be cut short (there was a second show at 11p), this allowed us to keep feeling the love, enjoy the classical music (yup) and revel in each other’s company.

The lights went down at 8:40p. Fog then enveloped the stage and through the huge double doors with Prince’s famous glyph, the man strutted, rather floated, onto the stage. He arrived at his piano, stood behind the stool for a few seconds and bowed his head to his hands. He said a little prayer (I assume), got himself centered and became One with the piano. He sat down, banged out one chord and stepped around the piano like he was trying to conquer it. We all laughed thinking this was a tease, but we soon came to find out, this would be one of the most emotional shows of his career.

Without words or acknowledgement of us, he whispered into the microphone what was going through his mind as a 3 year old boy. Being 3 and not being allowed to play his father’s piano, he was scared but enamored of what it was capable of after watching his father, a master pianist and his best friend, play. Thankfully, I immediately realized we weren’t just watching a rock concert, we were about to be part of a journey through Prince’s musical life. I felt I was the first to notice this. I’m not sure if I was, but it doesn’t matter. I had my first intimate moment with Prince. As most people know, Prince is one of the most private celebrities and has been most of his life. This is intentional. Being privy to what I was experiencing, I knew this was going to be emotional for ALL of us. No one had an idea of the set list, no one knew what was coming next. More theatrics, more music, more storytelling? It was absolutely fabulous.

THOUGHTS ON THE LOVE

Although I have seen Prince several times since 1987, there were songs from his early catalog that I thought I would NEVER hear live. Not only due to the fact that he stated a few years ago that he won’t play much of his back catalog anymore, but that there’s also literally hundreds of others to choose from. When we arrived at the part of his musical journey where he knew he could play piano well, he knew he could write music and sing, but now, as a teen, it was time to find himself. He started to play “Dirty Mind” and the crowd, including myself, lost it. Although all of us there were fans, many of us, like me, haven’t heard these songs in years, if ever. Especially the next song, “Do Me Baby.” For me, that song has always been one of the most sexy and sensuous songs ever written. And I pretty much swore off that I’d only see it performed on video. But there, at the piano, the first notes of said song began. My arms went up, eyes closed, YES this is happening! I started to sing along with him but then just had to be in the moment. Listening to those words, his falsetto, just the piano. I could have been the only one there. It still stirs up emotion deep down.

At this point, the music kept on coming. “Free” began and another huge smile came to my face. But after singing the first verse and part of the chorus, he stopped, put his head down to his clasped hands and said: “Peace to David Bowie. I only met him once. He was very nice to me.” He paused. “I heard he was nice to everyone. I just wanted to say that.” And he continued on. I bowed my head, got present and the tears started flowing. It had been a tough couple weeks since David Bowie’s death for me personally. The world, it seemed, was in mourning. When I got present to Prince, who I consider a musical genius, give props to another musical genius before him who died too soon, I just couldn’t contain myself. I was convinced that I was connected to Prince spiritually now, feeling what he was feeling with each note. I so appreciate that he stopped during the song, unrehearsed. He didn’t have to stop; he didn’t have to say anything, but he did. He wouldn’t have been fully present and that would have taken some of our experience away, even if it was subtle. Just that ONE moment is a true testament to how this man lives his life and treats his fans.

The music, fun and singing continued as we rolled through his catalog playing deep cuts as if they were #1 hits (see set list below with dates). Hearing the instrumental songs from Around The World In A Day and Parade were absolutely stunning and I just kept shaking my head in awe. Was this really happening? He’s sitting in front of me playing “Condition of the Heart”?! The answer was: Yes.

The roller coaster of love continued as we all stood up and sang “Paisley Park” IN Paisley Park (are you kidding me??) along with our friends. Smiles abound.

There were 2 encores that led to some of the newer songs like ”Baltimore” and “Rock and Roll Love Affair,” but we came back home with “Starfish and Coffee,” “The Breakdown,” and last, “Anna Stasia” from Lovesexy.

POST-SHOW

None of us wanted the party to end, but it was time. The lights came on and the staff lovingly started kicking us out as the next show was about to begin. I had NO idea how Prince would be able to do another hour and a half with basically giving us his all earlier, but if anyone could do it, he could. We left with smiles on our faces, music in our hearts and love in our souls. I think everyone there knew that we experienced an event that was once in a lifetime. And even if Prince toured with this exact set list, no show would be the same. It’s not many times in life that you witness history in the making. A thousand of us were there to be part of it– and he was too.

With a quick jaunt to the merch booth, I snagged an old shirt from the Lovesexy tour (my first one) and another CD. I desperately wanted to linger, but out the doors we went back into the Winter night. But right outside the door, there was a broken branch on the ground with flowers still on it from the flower bush left of the doors. I took it home as a memento and I see it every day as a reminder of what’s possible and that dreams do come true.

Thank you, Prince, for the music, for the love and for bearing your soul on stage. You crated a space for all of us to be glad that we are free, free to change our minds, free to go most anywhere, anytime. You’re a true inspiration that in turn has me look for how I can inspire others. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

Piano and a Microphone, Gala Event
@ Paisley Park, Chanhassen, MN, USA 
Jan 21, 2016 / 8:00PM
  1. Batman (TV Show Theme, 1966)
  2. Who’s Loving You (Miracles cover, 1960)
  3. Baby (from For You, 1978)
  4. I Wanna Be Your Lover (from Prince, 1979)
  5. Dirty Mind (from Dirty Mind, 1980)
  6. Do Me, Baby (from Controversy, 1981)
  7. Something in the Water (Does Not Compute) (from 1999, 1982)
  8. Free (David Bowie Tribute) (from 1999, 1982)
  9. A Case of You (Joni Mitchell cover, 1971))
  10. (Sometimes I Feel Like A) Motherless Child (Paul Robeson cover, 1930s)
  11. The Beautiful Ones (from Purple Rain, 1984)
  12. U’re Gonna C Me (from One Nite Alone, 2002)
  13. How Come Your Don’t Call Me (from b-side of 1999 single, 1982)
  14. Condition of the Heart (from Around The World In A Day, 1985)
  15. Venus de Milo (from Parade, 1986)
  16. Raspberry Beret (P gives props to Wendy & Lisa) (from Around The World In A Day, 1985)
  17. Paisley Park (Sing along) (from Around The World In A Day, 1985)
  18. Sometimes It Snows in April (from Parade, 1986)
  19. Eye Love U But Eye Don’t Trust U Anymore (from Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic, 1999)
  20. The Ballad of Dorothy Parker (from Sign O’ The Times, 1987)
  21. Unchain My Heart (Ray Charles cover, 1964)
  22. Baltimore (from HNR Ph2, 2016)
  23. Rock and Roll Love Affair (from HNR Ph2, 2016)
  24. Starfish and Coffee (from Sign O’ The Times, 1987)
  25. The Breakdown (from Art Official Age, 2014)
  26. Anna Stesia (from Lovesexy, 1988)

 

(For a wonderful review of the 8pm show, feel free to click here.)

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American Idol, Pia and the Buzz

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I knew there would be a lot of buzz today about Pia getting voted off Idol last night.. well, more than a lot.

I just read a few blogs on this, but this one made me head over here to blog.. and fast.

A voting problem? Well, I can’t say there isn’t, but in my opinion, America may have gotten it right again last night. At this point in the game, the weaker contestants will be gone 1-2-3. That’s what happened to Thia and Naima last week. America got it right. Thia was just getting eaten up by the show and the competition. In her case, her age got her and Naima just wasn’t a “fit” for the show and I think a lot of the viewing population didn’t “get her.” I did, but 40 somethings are not a large population of viewers. Would I have loved to see her win or get farther? Sure. But was she one of the best singers, no.

I do have to say that last night was a surprise for me, as Pia was destined to win the thing. I mean, look at her. Perfect body, perfect voice, singing since she was four, comfortable on stage, articulate and great fashion sense. Here’s what I think happened.. and it’s what the judges always say.. song choice, song choice, song choice.

Last week’s theme was “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” She had hundreds of songs to choose from. But what does she choose? A Tina Turner song that even I wasn’t familiar with, “River Deep – Mountain High.” She sounded great, but it was boring. She didn’t do anything with it, not many people knew the song (except maybe Randy) and I knew she’d be in the bottom three the next day. Was I the only one?

Here’s Tina’s version:

Fast forward to last night, it wasn’t a huge surprise to me that she was in the bottom three with that song. The deal with this season is at least they found really talented singers, but now they are stuck with ALL of them being amazing. There are some that stick out as “better,” but it’s all about the song choice and if they end up having a good night that night, or if they’re not sick, or “_______.” At this point, unfortunately, it will be a popularity contest. We’ve already been warned (as we are every season, every week) to be sure to vote for your favorite as no one is safe–no one.

I now feel like I’m getting a small glimpse into Simon Cowell’s mind and really seeing his reasoning on choosing some people over others during try outs and in Hollywood Week. In past seasons, it’s been obvious that there were amazing singers that didn’t get picked and we all wondered why.. well.. we now have the answer, or at least one.

I think Simon was always looking at the show, numbers and what would have people continue to tune in. He was looking at the big picture. We may not like that context, but in the end, this is a TV show. With the new judges, minus Simon, their context was finding the best singer. Was this wrong? No. But their view was smaller. I don’t think they were looking at the show.. they were focusing on the kids and getting them a record contract.

Good or bad, we are now “stuck” with 8 extraordinary singers. I love hearing each of them sing and finding out what they will bring to the table with arrangements, but as we move farther along in the show, I think they all may be a bit tentative in bringing uniqueness to their performances. Why? They’ll want to play it safe. All of them know any of them could win this. If Pia got voted off, anyone can. Especially since deep down inside, I think each of them knew that Pia would win it all.

I was waiting last night for someone to give up their spot. It’s never happened before. But in this case, one of them should have. You can’t tell me that Jacob or Paul, for example, think they can win this on vocal ability. Don’t get me wrong, their voices are unique, but they are not American Idol winners (sorry to those that are huge fans). I’m a huge Casey fan, but he would be the one I could see giving up his spot. He already almost left the show, he was feeling guilty that the save was used on him, it would have been perfect TV.

In the end, he was going on tour anyway, he’ll have a record contract either way and he would have left as a name that no one would forget as he gave up his spot for the better hopeful. Just perfect.

But that didn’t happen.

I’m wondering what the producers are saying right now. Ironically, I just went to the American Idol website and they don’t have the banner on Pia’s picture that says “voted off.” Makes a girl wonder.

Many have said there’s a major issue with the voting process on the show including the blog link I shared above. You can vote a number of ways and as many times as you want pretty much. There’s people who are haters of the show who have a contest where they vote for the WORST singer to see if they can stay on the show. Although there will always be those people, if there was a limit on how many times you could vote (other shows have that rule in place) I think it would end up a bit more fair and accurate.

But for now, there’s no way they will change any voting structure until next season. It wouldn’t be fair to the past contestants and it would show some sort of “failure” with the Idol voting process in general. And we wouldn’t want to show the reality of this on a REALITY SHOW would we?? Wow, do I smell lawsuit on that one.

So in the end, I’m shocked, but not floored about the Pia departure. The song wasn’t the best choice, she veered away from what she does best (ballads) and got sucked into what the judges kept telling her. What she should have listened to was America and their fast fingers. All those other weeks she was in the game, then she changes it up and she’s gone.

To the other contestants, I say this: “Follow your heart and gut. You know what’s right.”

Needless to say, the show has an interesting twist starting next week and for that alone, people will continue to watch. Oh the drama! American Idol, how I love you!

Glee

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No I’m not talking about the show, I’m talking about what I’m filled with 🙂

I missed writing again yesterday. I was proud of myself on many levels, but totally forgot to write. I was able to get a bit of sleep as my little one is still recouping a bit from her MMR shot. Poor kid. I think I will call her doc tomorrow just to check to see if this excessive sleeping is normal. Or I could just enjoy it and move on 🙂

I got a 4 mile run in (training for a 10K now) yesterday morning and then got ready to head to CT. Why CT? Well, one of my favorite comics, or two of them, were playing at Mohegan Sun arena last night, Dane Cook and Al Del Bene. I’ve followed these guys since 2001 and it’s been a blast watching them evolve. It also doesn’t hurt that I get the VIP treatment just about every time I see them and it’s even better when Al is on tour with Dane 🙂 Because I know Al from the small venue level, he’s really good to me. I can honestly say that I’m his #1 fan. He will attest to that. Over the years, I’ve gotten people to listen to his stuff, started fan pages and all that stuff. He’s very appreciative. Due to all that, he was able to get my friend and I back stage and it was a blast. I love seeing him and Dane also now knows me by name and it’s such an honor. We got to hug, chat, laugh.. just an amazing night.

I will post pics later as I didn’t get to upload them yet, but wanted to get this note in before I left.. heading to an in-store performance of a past-local-Boston-musician-now-turned-LA-musician, Bleu. I love knowing these guys for years.. makes me feel oh so important 🙂

NaBloPoMo

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Don’t we all love acronyms? I just found out that November is NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) where bloggers are to get in the habit of posting every day for a month. Wow. I’ve said that I’ve wanted to do that every month for the past year. I’ve lost out on this month due already to the first few days, but here’s for 2 days in a week!

My week has been long, but I’ve gotten some sleep and I have a fun weekend ahead. Thanks to friends, music and my DH, I’ve scheduled a lot of the weekend WITHOUT the little one so we’ll see how this goes 🙂

Tonight was a mani-pedi with a great friend for her birthday. Tomorrow is Mohegan Sun casino to see my buddies Dane Cook and Al Del Bene with another good friend.. hopefully with surprises in store 🙂

Here’s me and Al last year. I was preggo at the time.

Sunday is an in-store performance at Newbury Comics from my buddy and amazing musician, Bleu, who has his new album “Four” out now!

There you go! Not much of a mom post, but it’s my post today!Newb