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ROBBIE'S ROAD REPORT - THE LATEST FROM L.A.

June 18, 2010
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ROBBIE GENNET'S ROAD REPORT - THE LATEST FROM L.A.

Welcome back to the Keyboard blog! Just posted some new videos on how to replace your Rhodes hammer tips along with a comparison video of old vs. new tines that must be seen to be believed. Who knew you could bend a tine in half and have it not break? Only if it’s a new one! Check it out here and let us know how your Rhodes is doing! Join the forum, post to the boards and reach out to your keyboard-playing brothers and sisters. Community is built one person at a time and we love to hear your thoughts, opinions and feedback.

This Spring has been a whirlwind of musical activity and we’ve really been blessed to see some great shows, including the whole Coachella experience this Spring. It’s been awhile since my last blog, but only because there has been so many amazing musical experiences that kept popping up that I had to keep amending this post. Los Angeles is one of those crazy towns where things are always happening on the fly and it’s our job at the mag to try to cover it all for you. This Thursday I’m slated to visit Ozzy’s tour rehearsals to hang with keyboardist Adam Wakeman, followed on Saturday by a long drive out to San Bernardino to hook up with Michael Kenney, long time keyboard player for Iron Maiden and all around righteous bloke. Since Dream Theater is opening the show, we’re also slated to meet up with Jordan Rudess who promised a demo of his new MorphWiz app. Looking farther out, I’m set to meet Gregory MacDonald from Sloan before their July 1st SoCal date and get the inside scoop on their music. If you don’t know Sloan’s music, you are really missing out! As you can see, much ado here in SoCal as the weather heats up and the concert schedule does as well.

Last week, my good buddy Arlan Schierbaum called me up to come play some keys with him at a charity gig featuring the illustrious Alan Parsons, which I excitedly accepted. Though it was a one-off band, Arlan MD’d it into a great sounding project. The band rocked a short set including “Eye in the Sky,” “Games People Play” and the amazing song “Time.” Such a thrill, both to play with Mr. Parsons and to watch Arlan up close manning a B-3, a Moog Old School Voyager, a Roland Fantom G6, an old Kurzweil PC and an Alesis Andromeda. Talk about bringin’ the rig! Way to go, Jedi master.

On Friday night June 4th, we got to see one of Coachella’s finest rock the Palladium: LCD Soundsystem, led by the incomparable James Murphy. Featuring a 6-piece live band with a ton of keyboards, Murphy and Co. rocked a Sold Out crowd with songs from all three records, leaving not a booty unshaken in the house. Keyboardist/vocalist Nancy Whang plays a feature role onstage and she manned quite a few keyboards, including a CP70 and Wurly. During the third song of the set (Sound of Silver’s opening jam “Get Innocuous”) the CP crapped out and they had to stop the show to figure it out. Murphy seemed most concerned of all and finally settled on switching her over to the Wurly for that tune, which thusly rocked the house. Minor keyboard malfunctions aside, the show was a high energy disco party and the band’s energy never flagged. Murphy says this may be LCD’s last tour, so catch it if you can and bring your boogie shoes!

Monday May 24th found us at the Santa Monica pier to see Jack Johnson along with the very talented and congenial Zach Gill, who also fronts ALO and has some great solo music as well. Johnson’s show was in honor of a beach cleanup that day and those who participated got to watch from the pier. However, a large contingent spread out on the sand below and were grooved along on what proved to be a rather chilly night for Southern California. Johnson’s music is smooth and accessible and his vibe and message are positive, peaceful and at times, downright funky. Gill’s role onstage is more of co-conspirator and his presence looms large in the music. Playing a vintage upright piano plus a wurly and moog, Gill added to the music and sang some sweet harmonies to boot. We privately worried about leaving vintage keyboard gear on a cold damp pier for a few hours but hopefully, all survived! Johnson and Gill will be touring the world all year so do yourself a favor and go see 'em when they’re in your town. 

Saw the incredible John Butler Trio on Friday May 21st at the House of Blues on Sunset and although the band has no keyboards, I felt compelled to mention what an awesome live show it was. I interviewed John for Guitar Player and bassist Byron Luiters for Bass Player and they are both superb individuals with amazing talents. Check out the video I shot touring John’s guitar collection and live rig  and pick up a copy of their inspiring new album April Uprising to hear one of the best records of the year. It’s hard nowadays to hear every record that gets released but I’m in the lucky position of getting many of them sent my way and I regularly reach out to smaller labels who release some amazing music on a regular basis. I hear a lot of good stuff, but the great records- the ones that stick in your head and compulsively weave themselves into your life- are rare. But they do exist and every time I hear a record that becomes a future favorite I usually know it after the first listen. However, sometimes records emerge with repeated listens and take a little bit of courting before the full-blown romance. I give multiple chances where I hear even a hint of glory, and am often rewarded by a diamond in the rough. That all being said, besides John Butler’s excellent platter, I highly recommend the following records from recent times, some of which I have reviewed for the mag:

Sainthood- Tegan and Sara
Night Work- The Scissor Sisters
Book Of Angels: Ipos Vol. 14- John Zorn and the Dreamers
The Satanic Satanist- Portugal.The Man
Midnight Souveniers- Peter Wolf

Regarding that last one on the list, I saw that Wolf has been doing occasional gigs with a reunited J. Geils Band and has booked an upcoming show with Aerosmith at Fenway Park. Here’s hoping for a full blown tour! I could sure use some live “Freeze Frame” action, as I’m sure could a large contingent of Gen Xers.  In their pre-Centerfold era, Wolf and Co. were a mean house band with great energy; check out “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s How You Do It)” off their sophomore slab The Morning After for a jolt of New England whiteboy funk percolating with the frenetic organ playing of Seth Justman. Crucial rock!

I wanted to mention a few other shows that went down since my last blog entry, so as not to leave out some indelible occasions. On May 14th we caught OAR and ALO co-headlining the Wiltern and it was a solid night of jammy pop music. Longtime OAR keyboardist/percussionist Mike L. Paris was as animated as ever, no doubt to balance the thumping energy of drummer Chris Culos. The band had the crowd really singing along and you could tell their fans were out there. ALO was awesome as ever; the band had such a smooth dynamic flow around singer/keyboard wiz Zach Gill’s catchy lyrics and melodies and the crowd was really grooving. ALO are purveyors of fine funk, mellowed to perfection and served up warm and bubbling. Well worth a taste! PS- if you’re in the NYC area, go check out the Mike L. Paris Trio at Rockwood Music Hall (Houston & Stanton) on Wed. June 23rd at 9pm.

May 4th we drove an hour out to Pomona to see Coheed and Cambria rock the house down in front of a packed house. The band is powerful live and their rabid fans sing back every word with a reverence usually reserved for bands like Manowar. Keyboardist Wes Styles had his hands full and kept things running smoothly up there, adding some solid backup vocals and having a blast bringing their epic tunes to life. The band has transcended whatever genre they were birthed from to occupy their own niche and style. CoCa is a band I try to never miss live and it’s always a pleasure hanging with Mr. Styles at the show.

On Saturday, May 1st we ducked into Hollywood to see another Coachella fave of ours play an outdoor show behind an art gallery. The band Portugal. The Man packed the house and delivered a cool set against a movie screen backdrop. Much of the footage was of band members trudging through the snow, which is appropriate seeing as they hail from Alaska. The bands ethereal rock delves into the MGMT/Mark Bolan sauce and comes out tasty and memorable. Keyboard player Ryan Neighbors was rocking a Juno-106 on top of an obscure Yamaha keyboard though I don’t think that was his regular rig. In any case, cool band, dig the vibe!

Stepping even further back in time, I spent a groovy weekend April 23/24 with head Keyboard honcho Steve Fortner, who graciously allowed me to come shoot some video footage at Devo’s amazing studio Mutato in Hollywood. I’m sure you’ve seen the footage by now but man, that is one creative hub full of some pretty amazing toys and tools. Devo’s new record is a surprisingly taut romp through the Mutato universe and their single “Fresh” holds up to any of the old hits. Drummer Josh Freese lays down a solid punk foundation and the band is nailing it live. I saw their Coachella set and attended their Kimmel show soundcheck so I can attest to the power of Devo live. And I must say that hearing “Whip It” never gets old.  The next night, we partied it up at Rami Jaffee’s Fonogenic studio facility and saw some fun live music courtesy of Minnie Driver and friends. The place was jammed, there was face painting and Korean foodie trucks and a fair share of celebs to spice up the proceedings. Certainly one of the most entertaining parties of the year, which culminated in my esteemed colleague Steve Fortner professing his love of the Blade Runner soundtrack to Darryl Hannah and jamming out on Rami’s old Helpinstill upright. Good times, Mr. F! You’re welcome back to LA anytime :) Check out pictures.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention seeing a rare gig by The Awesomeness at the Mint on April 1st. The brainchild of keyboardists Jim McGorman and Steve Ferlazzo, the four piece band line up behind a row of synths and are conspicuously missing a drummer. Ferlazzo triggered his rig from his iPhone(!) and the band rocked some deep 80’s electronic synth-rock grooves on their catchy original tunes. Check out their site to hear the single “Too Hot Not to Handle” and try to catch em live if you can.

Well, that’s a wrap for now~ I’ve got deadlines to hit, waves to ride and pianos to rock. I also have an instructional book and DVD coming out this summer with Alfred Publishing, a freshly mastered EP and a long-awaited third Rudy album in the mixing stage. More on that soon~ hope you’re having an exceptional spring wherever you are! Let me leave you with the following quote from a master piano player and all around character:

“There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.” - Oscar Levant

See you at the asylum~ bring tines...

Robbie Gennet
June 16, 2010
Los Angeles, CA
www.robbiegennet.com


 

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