all reviews and photos by John A. Wilcox

CT Gamercon - The Convention Center At Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT 04/01/17

An early start for me as I had a haul ahead to get to Mohegan Sun's convention center. A stop at Denny's in Westbrook for an economical & filling breakfast and an engaging waitress named Gee Gee. On to Mohegan! The convention center is nestled deep in the Sky casino. A bit of a stretch of the legs, but I was still fresh!

After getting my wristband, I started checking out the situation. Everything was on 1 floor. A huge floor with several huge ballrooms branching off the main artery. The main floor had food and drink as well as several tables with creative talent including the jaw-dropping folks at Decimated Designs as well as racing arcade machines that were free to play. They were full of kids, which was a great sign! Lots of places to sit, by the way. This was an awesome thing!

I wandered into the main gaming room. Huge screens on 2 of the walls where there were live gaming competitions going on the entire time I was there. Lots of seats to sit and watch the competitions. There were also dozens and dozens of monitors connected to original Nintendo 8-bit consoles, PS4 consoles, and everything in-between. All were there for anyone to just sit down and play for free! A few vendors were there as well as a wonderful organization to raise money for children's hospitals! Be a hero and check them out at

The next room over was filled with vendors as well as D&D-type gaming and gamers. So many nice folks! I had laughs with a great band called Lame Genie - these dudes were pure fun! Lighthearted author Dexter Herron was giving me the scoop on his latest novel - Shard's Thugs. Sounded like a rollicking tale full of laughs and adventure! Check it out on Amazon!

On the board gaming front, I ran into the wacky folks at Angry Duck Games. It did my heart good to see a locally produced board game! Very well done. I saw lots of folks all wearing blue tye dye t-shirts. Who were they? According to the unforgettable John "Hoss" Haskell, they were the Ellis Tech Simulation Club out of Danielson, CT. Haskell grabbed my attention with astounding stories of using board games to teach teens about everything from shipping lanes to the Constitution! I was in awe!

Hey! I forgot to mention - tons of cosplayers! I saw Harley Quinn, Joker, Twisty the clown, Cammy, Obi Wan Kenobi, Mario and Luigi, Rogue, and so very many more! Imaginations were clearly on fire for cosplayers of all ages!

I would surely be remiss if I neglected to mention the fine representative of our Navy who was there to hand out resources for veterans and their families. is the website for more info. I proudly shook the vet's hand and thanked him for his service to our country. These gentlemen & ladies desrve our love, thanks, and respect.

As my time drew to a close and I headed back home, I felt a happy buzz. CT Gamercon had a friendly, laid back, positive vibe. I felt like I was spending time with long-lost friends I never knew I had! I'll have fond memories and fun stories to tell for years to come! Thank you, Mitch!

The Musical Box - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 03/05/17

Let me preface this review with a small caveat: the band were not allowing the press nor the audience to photograph this gig. A first in my 19 years of covering The Musical Box. The images I've included are from a show over a decade ago. The were never used & I had a bit of fun with them for your viewing pleasure! This was a White show from the early leg of the Selling England By The Pound tour minus the standard More Fool Me that was played during those shows. The set opened with Watcher Of The Skies. Full of power and packed with emotional energy. The band had all pistons firing. The same was true of Dancing With The Moonlit Knight. Guitar ablaze and perfectly counterpointed by the keyboards. Follow on! With a twist of the world we go! A lush take of The Cinema Show followed. Harmonic guitars and voices teased my ears building to that massive guitar / drums / keyboard section! Thrilling is the proper word!

Lopping off time with the cosmic lawnmower! I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) once again pushed the boundaries of what a hit single can and cannot be. 97.04% of the crowd sang along! A spot-on perfect Firth Of Fifth had us all slack-jawed in amazement. The band were on a serious roll! Lambs were lying down with lions and we nowhere near Broadway! The sad tale of Henry & Cynthia and their fatal game of croquet had the crowd roaring to hear The Musical Box. Why don't you touch the guitarist now as he plays a note-perfect Horizons? Absolutely lovely.

The drums started a marching beat on the snare to herald in The Battle Of Epping Forest. Liquid Len and Bob the knob were there to sort it out. An audio/visual gang war as we all sat safely in our seats! Old Michael's wormy tale prefaced a stunning Supper's Ready. It was breathtaking on so many levels. A spent crowd got a superlative encore of The Return Of The Giant Hogweed to drain their last jolts of energy. Easily one of the very best performances I've seen of The Musical Box ever!

Steve Hackett - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 02/22/17

Nice day. Cool but not cold. Nice crowd. Nice vibe. Had a pre-show talk with Nad Sylvan, Steve Hackett, and his entrancing wife Jo. Spirits were high. Everything felt good. Smiles all around. Before long, it was showtime. Everyday started the evening on a brisk note. Harmonies were tight, the band were spot on, and that long closing solo was sheer lunacy! Most certainly off to an auspicious start! The upcoming new album The Night Siren was represented by 3 songs, the 1st of which was the instrumental El Nino. It packed a huge wallop thanks in no small part by the drums of Gary O'Toole abetted by Rob Townsend's deft percussion. Strong as iron! Over to the flute went Rob Townsend for the intro to Defector's The Steppes. A giant technicolor widescreen film made entirely of sound. Steve Hackett's guitar wailed as Nick Beggs played that bass as if it was made of rubber bands. Wow! This is as good a time as any to point out that although this was a Steve Hackett show, every player was of equal stature on that stage. This was truly a tightly-knit ensemble. New piece #2 arrived in the form of In The Skeleton Gallery. It was an exotic globe-spanning slice of eeriness that served the brain all sorts of textures, moods, and motifs.

Steve Hackett told a story about his family emigrating from Poland to England in the 1800s as a preface to another new number from The Night Siren: Behind The Smoke. It sounded ominous but with shards of hope. A story about his dad selling paintings served to introduce the lovely Serpentine Song from the To Watch The Storms album. Rob Townsend's whistles added a charming touch. Next was a chestnut from the Darktown album - Rise Again. It sounded luxurious with magic keyboard textures courtesy of Roger King. Shadow Of The Hierophant was a highlight. Nick Beggs sat cross-legged on the floor pounding his bass pedals with his fists as Gary O'Toole raged ever more frantically on his kit as the number bloomed, boomed, and grew to monstrous proportions.

Nad Sylvan took the stage as we entered the Genesis portion of the show. This tour focused on the 40th anniversary of the Wind & Wuthering album, so we got a nice chunk, starting with Eleventh Earl Of Mar It gave me chills! Steve Hackett was about to introduce the next number but mistakenly started to introduce the number just played. Then, laughing, he introduced Twelfth Earl Of Mar before a near-religious take of One For The Vine. This gaffe came back later in the set as he said How many Earls of Mar would you like? Out came the classical guitar for Blood On The Rooftops. Gary O'Toole lent it a superb vocal and the crowd went nuts! The next 2 numbers were dedicated to the late great John Wetton: ...In That Quiet Earth going into Afterglow. The closing line of I miss you more now all the more poignant.

We stepped back 1 album to 1976's A Trick Of The Tail for the piston engine that is Dance On A Volcano. Dark vocal from Nad Sylvan. Crazy playing from Steve Hackett. That whirling dervish closing instrumental ending always excites my ears! If there's an old Genesis tune I have championed for years, it's Inside And Out. An orphan of the Wind & Wuthering that saw the light of day on the Spot The Pigeon EP, it was never played live by Genesis on their US shows. Here it was live at last and sounding strong, thanks in no small part to Nad Sylvan's vocal and the locked-in band interplay. Roger King and Rob Townsend were the stars of Firth Of Fifth. Not counting, of course, Steve Hackett's classic solo we all know and love so well! All good shows must come to an end, so it was the task of The Musical Box on this evening. Ever-grand, the melodramatic tale of unconsummated spirit/human desire was executed with vigor and all that good stuff! Huge blocks of sound pressing ever outward. Savage. The sole encore was rather appropriately Los Endos. It featured bits of Myopia, Imagining, and Slogans scattered across its framework. A big, energetic finish to a triumphant evening celebrating the musical legacy of Steve Hackett.

Lez Zeppelin - The Warehouse, Fairfield, CT 12/16/16

A frosty cold evening - perfect Zep weather! After a delicious calzone at Captain's Pizza, I walked across the street to The Warehouse. Just like last year, the young band Clueless had the opening slot. 6 talented you men energized the crowd with their impressive playing and great song selection. Starting with Steely Dan's Kid Charlemagne, they plowed through classics like Medicated Goo, No Sugar Tonight, and They Call Me The Breeze with total assurance. The crowd were moving and grooving!

Twin guitars and a tight rhythm section with colorful keyboards were a perfect bed for their big-voiced frontman on Magic Carpet Ride and Them Changes. He left the stage for a version of Frankenstein that had jaws dropping. The heat continued with Mustang Sally and Whipping Post. The encore was The Letter. Clueless deserve a full headline slot. Hopefully 2017 sees that become a reality!

This was my 4th time seeing Lez Zeppelin, and yet another line up change. Bassist / keyboardist Joan Chew and vocalist Marlain Angelides came into the fold, joining stalwarts Steph Paynes on guitar and theramin, and Leesa Harrington-Squyres on the drum kit. The drums were on a riser this time & it added to the feel as well as giving a much better view. Every line up of this band has had a unique vibe to it, and this one was no exception. Chew was simply massive on the keyboards and a muscular bassist. Angelides added considerable drama and a likable charm as well as one hell of a voice!

Did I mention it was Paynes' birthday? The festive atmosphere started right off the bat with a ripping Immigrant Song. Everyone was firing on all cylinders. My brain started to melt from the passionate take of Nobody's Fault But Mine with a particularly memorable vocal by Angelides. The inseparable 1-2 of Heartbreaker and Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman) sounded great with Paynes sounding the best I've ever heard her.

Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You was owned by Angelides. Chew switched from bass to keys for Trampled Under Foot and Misty Mountain Hop. Those 2 numbers truly hit all the right notes for me. definitely a highlight. Let me take a moment here to celebrate the powerhouse drumming of Harrington-Squyres. The dimensionality was there. John Bonham would've surely nodded his approval. Dazed And Confused was another Paynes feature piece. So much color and emotion in her playing this evening.

Back to keyboards for No Quarter with Chew and Paynes taking us all on quite a sonic journey. Hypnotic. Rock & Roll and Black Dog were simply put balls-to-the-walls rock of the highest caliber. A positively demonic Whole Lotta Love brought home a exhausting set. I was sweating and emotionally wrung out by all that energy. But wait - there's yet more! Kashmir was the encore. A perfect ensemble number with all 4 musicians having their spots. A fantastic capper on 2016 for this boy. Happy Birthday, Steph!!

The Security Project - Daryl's House, Pawling, NY 11/02/16

The last time I was in this venue, it was called the Towne Crier. In recent years, Daryl Hall took it over and it now bears his name. Within moments of walking in, I was unhappy with the venue. The manager was rude and dismissive of me. A good manager offers solutions to a patron. Not this one. I was stuck over in the astoundingly loud bar. Over an over a drunk loudly shouted during the performance that he was "the plumber at the local prison" at all too regular intervals. Oh joy. The woman next to me was sure that the band was going to play Groovy Kind Of Love. Welcome to my personal Hell. File all that in your mind as the setup for the Security Project. They were in town to bring us all plenty of Peter Gabriel goodness. For this go round, they were Jerry Marotta on drums, Trey Gunn on Warr guitar and backing vocals, ex-Shriekback member Michael Cozzi on guitar backing vocals, and David Jameson on keys and Eigenharp. Joining them as lead vocalist was Happy Rhodes. A very impressive set of players who really brought it that evening!

Opening the set was The Rhythm Of The Heat. It cast my mind back to the 1982 Peter Gabriel show I saw in NYC, as it was his opener on that tour. Rhodes was on point and there was lots of tribal percussion. The ever-caustic Intruder was next on the menu. Brilliant. Gunn was the hero of Family Snapshot, capturing the essence of the original bass lines yet making them his own. Up came another 3rd album fave - No Self Control. Rhodes and Marotta drove this one. They tore my heart out with the gorgeous Humdrum. Stellar set so far!

Into the meat of the evening now. The ritualistic The Family And The Fishing Net was a set highlight. Jameson and Cozzi bounced well off of Gunn's rubbery lines. Rhodes was marvelous on I Have The Touch - her voice deep and enthralling. Marotta's backing vocal on Wallflower added a sort of pleading feel. It was beautiful. The dark humor of Games Without Frontiers morphed into a long experimental improv full of color and emotion. Killer! My heart flipped with a Kate Bush cover. Rhodes owned Mother Stands For Comfort - a song I never thought I would hear live. Such a treasure!

The ensemble then played a Happy Rhodes number - Collective Heart. The vocal was fragile yet buoyant, and the band really knocked me out! A propulsive I Don't Remember segued into the anthemic Red Rain. San Jacinto was positively huge! It was perfectly counterpointed by Lead A Normal Life God, I love that song!

Back to the Genesis days for a clutch of songs. First up was Fly On A Windshield with acoustic guitar by Rhodes. It was followed, of course, by Broadway Melody Of 1974. The set closed with a crowd pleasing take of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Rhodes was absent for the 1st encore as Marotta took the mic for Back In NYC. Room for 1 more! Rhodes intoned Lay Your Hands On Me with great backing vocals! The show was emotional and spiritual. The playing transcendent. Yes, no Groovy Kind Of Love for the woman at the bar. Thank God! A spectacular show at a venue I shall never return to!

The Australian Bee Gees Show - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 10/23/16

Whether one admits it or not, we all go into a concert with some sort of expectation. In the case of The Australian Bee Gees Show, I thought it'd be a nice night of light entertainment. Perhaps a song or 2 I would hum along with. I was so very wrong! This act blew me away with their stellar musicianship and unbelievably tight harmonies. The band were Matt Baldoni in the Barry Gibb slot; Paul Lines in the Robin Gibb slot; Jack Leftley in the Maurice Gibb slot; David Inamine on bass; Jeff Tetrault on drums. The show began with old commercials and TV show introductions before the group flew into Nights On Broadway. The funkatocious Jive Talkin' grooved up next. More Than A Woman featured butter soft harmonies, then it was back in time for a gorgeous I Can't See Nobody. They served me 2 faves in a row: I've Gotta Get A Message To You and I Started A Joke. Splendid!

Baldoni, Lines, and Leftley gathered around a single mic for an acoustic medley. New York Mining Disaster 1941, Run To Me, and Morning Of My Life showed why this act is famous worldwide. Vocal magic. Perfect harmonies. The spirit of the Bee Gees was right there on stage. Tetrault and Inamine rejoined the trio on stage for an infectious Lonely Days that had me singing my lungs out! Another classic - Massachusetts - had everyone singing. Next, a sweet moment. Lines left the stage to slow dance with a young woman in the front row as the band performed a tender take of Words. Very emotional. The entire house clapped and sang and grooved to Tragedy. The 1st set concluded and I got to rest my hands & throat!

Set 2 began with the band teasing us with a bit of You Should Be Dancing before moving in to Alone. The clock ticked back again for the harmony-rich To Love Somebody. Another medley: this time songs written for other artists. It began with the Barbra Streisand hit Guilty. Next, the Kenny Rogers / Dolly Parton duet Islands In The Stream. A tribute to brother Andy Gibb via (Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away. The medley closed with the Diana Ross hit Chain Reaction. All sounding infinitely better with the Bee Gees vibe!

1987's upbeat You Win Again sounded bright and sunshiny. Everyone in the crowd went bonkers for Grease with a fun vocal from Leftley. The whipped cream harmonies on How Deep Is Your Love were smooth and oh-so-tight. Inamine and Tetrault were a refreshing burst of energy on the sly Night Fever. As one might expect, the 2nd set closed with Stayin' Alive. The crowd was insane. For the encore, the band asked security to let people dance in front of the stage and scores of folks rushed up front to dance and sing along with the rather apropos You Should Be Dancing. A pure celebration packed with party atmosphere. Don't miss these wonders from down under!

The Yardbirds - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 10/14/16

Back to Ridgefield! Had an early dinner in town, then off to the venue. Opening for the Yardbirds was a solo act: singer / songwriter Larry Stevens. Tunes like Ain't We There Yet and It Ain't Right For Wrong To Rule were smart, friendly pop. Stevens reminded me of a cross between John Sebastian and Jackson Browne. Deja Voo Doo Glow was the apex of the set for me. A cover of Wonderland led to Always You. Stevens' set closed with Love Just Happens To Be. This guy never wore out his welcome and I'd most definitely love to hear more!

Just after 9, the Yardbirds' merch/crew guy introduced the band: drummer Jim McCarty; guitarist Johnny A; bassist Kenny Aaronson; vocalist / guitarist John Idan; percussion / harmonica / vocalist Myke Scavone - 5 live Yardbirds! Right out of the gate they tore up a hit - Heart Full Of Soul. I was floored by the power here. Drinking Muddy Water and I'm Not Talking were next on the menu. Idan's voice was rough and ready. Please Don't Tell Me 'Bout The News and The Nazz Are Blue showed how locked in Aaronson and McCarty were. This was hard-edged rock with a blues underpinning. You're A Better Man Than I and I Ain't Got You kept the voltage high.

The 1-2 wallop of Little Games and Shapes Of Things was just 1 of many highlights. Johnny A was absolutely vicious. The momentum kept edging forward thanks to New York City Blues, Back Where I Started, and Evil Hearted You. Lost Woman led to a superlative version of Still I'm Sad with fine e-bow use by Johnny A.

That unforgettable guitar riff meant that Over Under Sideways Down was here! Everyone rocked out on Smokestack Lightning. Scavone's percussion launched For Your Love. Happenings Ten Years Time Ago dunked us in the psychedelic well, and an explosive Dazed And Confused closed the set on a mind blower of a note! The encores were a freight train of sound courtesy of Train Kept A Rollin', and a blues rock closer via I'm A Man. A fist of sound pounding at the sky. Give me more!

Fairfield School Of Rock - The Acoustic, Bridgeport, CT 9/23/16

The last time I was in this building was 3 or 4 years ago when it was called the Acoustic Cafe. It was a coffee and cakes kind of place - very laid back. Gone if the cafe part - no coffee, no cakes that I could discern. Lots of booze & bring your own eats. The stage was now on the opposite end of the space. Hey, it worked! I was here to catch my great niece drum with the Fairfield School Of Rock. The theme was '60s Psychedelic Radio Hits. The soundtrack of my childhood! Cool! The kids jumped right into It's A Beautiful Morning and we were off to the races. Elenore and Incense And Peppermints followed. Everyone seemed to have fun up on the stage. Good Lovin' and Judy In Disguise kept the good vibrations going. I sang along with everything. How could I not?

Hanky Panky took us to Sooner Or Later. The kids ranged in age from the single digits to about 15 years old. All united in music. For What It's Worth led to the celebratory Mony Mony, and the 1st set ended with Summer In The City.

After a 15 minute break, the 2nd set began with Groovin' and Hang On Sloopy. There were 21 players in the ensemble and they changed from number to number so everyone had plenty of time to rock. Do You Believe In Magic and Get Together were positively groovy. Mr Tambourine Man represented both the Byrds and Bob Dylan for the show!

People Got To Be Free had the moms swinging and swaying and Along Comes Mary was a real clap-along! Next up were a pair of Monkees tunes: Last Train To Clarksville and I'm A Believer. The show closed with Happy Together. Everyone on stage had much to be proud of. A new generation of players rocking out. Truly hope for the future!

The Bangles - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 8/26/16

Warm, steamy afternoon in Ridgefield swiftly mellowed to a pleasant Summer evening. I was in a relaxed mood - ready to enjoy my time. Opening up the show were a band called Cardiac. A trio featuring David Jonathan DiSarro on vocals, Don Bish on drums, and Jarod Woznik on guitar. Their sound was straight up rock. Another Hero Dies started things off. In-your-face stuff! I was lovin' it. Rot In Rhode Island was next. Dark energy. Really enjoyed Woznik's guitar textures. The trio were joined by the Bangles' bassist Derrick Anderson for a shmokin' cover of Jumpin' Jack Flash. Lick The Blade was moody and powerful.

DiSarro introduced Breathe by talking about the video for it. Very strong song. I thought the vocal was great! Summer Saved Me reminded me that I need to mention Bish's drumming. A powder keg of percussion - this guy's fierce! A fine number called Silver Lining took us to the set ending I Feel Alive. For this one, DiSarro brought his parents up on stage to clap along. The last several pieces were from an upcoming rock opera the band is working on. Cardiac were much more than an opening act. They were a thunderstorm of sound and emotion. I fully expect to see them headlining across the world in the near future! Hot!

The last time I saw the Bangles was 29 years ago at the University of Bridgeport with the Hoodoo Gurus opening up for them! Far too long! For this go around, Vicki & Debbi Peterson and Susanna Hoffs were joined by the aforementioned Derrick Anderson on bass. A perfect fit, in case you were wondering! The set began with a tune off the very first Bangles EP - Mary Street. Over the evening, they played all 5 songs from it! Definitely a good omen! Strong vocal by Vicki on it. Some Dreams Come True from the Everything album saw Debbi take lead. Great groove on this. Susanna was next with Manic Monday. Not everyone is aware that this band has 3 rock solid lead vocalists who rotate throughout the evening. The Petersons also bring that family thing to their vocals. Think Ann & Nancy Willson, the Cowsills, or Brian, Dennis & Carl Wilson. Next up were 4 songs from All Over The Place starting with Restless. Next was 1 of my highlights of the evening: James. I've had a spot for this number since I first heard it in '84 & it sounded just as vibrant in 2016!

A hot take of He's Got A Secret led to the first Bangles song I ever heard: Going Down To Liverpool. A beefy, crunchy performance of it that hit me like a zap from a generator! Off to the Different Light album and their cover of September Gurls. The night just kept building energy as it progressed. Back to the EP for I'm In Love and The Real World. Garage rock in the best possible sense. Raw and honest. Debbi delivered a super vocal & rocked her kit on Live!

The crowd went crazy for A Hazy Shade Of Winter. The ladies' harmonies were nothing short of dazzling. It was followed by the sweet If She Knew What She Wants that had the girls in the row in front of me dancing and swaying. Vicki's Want You and Dover Beach were my 2nd show highlight as I'm crazy for both songs! Todd Rundgren would've given a massive thumbs up to their cover of Open My Eyes from his days in the Nazz. Pure fun, no filler!

The set ended with a 3 song non-stop burst of Silent Treatment, In Your Room, and Hero Takes A Fall. It was brilliant pop rock that showed how much ass this band continues to kick! 1st encore was How Is The Air Up There - awesome choice. Debbi Peterson joined the others at the front of the stage for a super fun Walk Like An Egyptian. Last but far from least was a fragile acoustic version of Eternal Flame with no microphones. The crowd sang along with every syllable. A beautiful coda to a dynamite evening!!

Blackmore's Night - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 8/12/16

It was an oppressively humid day. Quite hot as well. My friend Marcie picked me up in full garb and was clearly feeling the heat with all those layers. I was semi-garbed as well - wearing my white cotton nautical looking shirt and my "Mr Smee" striped cap. No A/C in the car, so open windows would have to do! Wending our way from Westport to Ridgefield, we had a nice Italian meal at a place called Venice. I had some very fine fettuccine Alfredo & an iced tea. Excellent food & service; well priced. I highly recommend it if you're in the area. Off to the Ridgefield Playhouse to grab our tickets and wait for doors to open. We ran into our mutual friend Dot Sweet and several other friends.

The venue was pretty much sold out and they were also having a silent auction for an acoustic guitar freshly signed by our very own Ritchie Blackmore. I had several conversations with friends new and old and then the lights came down. As with Blackmore's Night's 2014 tour, Wizard's Consort opened the show. This trio weave medieval magic as they give new life to very old music. Bouree was a highlight of the set with that bassist throwing in the Jethro Tull version's bass solo. Their musicality was just off the charts. I was riveted to their 45 minute set.

Blackmore's Night hit the stage a bit after 9 PM with Ritchie Blackmore flying on hurdy gurdy to lead us all into Dancer And The Moon. Candice Night was in fine voice and the band were flawless. The joyous opener was followed by the moody Darkness. It transitioned into Dance Of The Darkness and I believe a bit of Queen For A Day Pt II if I am not mistaken. Shawmtastic! Time for us all to sing the colorful Under A Violet Moon. The crowd seemed to be in good voice! Night added some effective dramatic staging to Soldier Of Fortune - sitting on the floor on house left for the final verse. Wonderful.

The band had a chance to flex their muscles a bit on the instrumental Durch Den Wald Zum Bach Haus. In the course of the number the Scarlet Fiddler played a familiar Hungarian number, and I swear that Bard David of Larchmont threw in some Mozart! Speaking of Bard David, next we got a breathtaking keyboard solo that had hearts racing and jaws dropping. Everyone was back onstage for the ominous World Of Stone. It was well contrasted by the joyfully anthemic Renaissance Faire. It had everyone in the house singing and dancing in the aisles due in no small part to Troubadour of Aberdeen's hypnotic drumming.

The instrumental Allan Yn N Fan was the first of 3 numbers played this evening from the band's latest release All Our Yesterdays. The gorgeous number The Peasant's Promise followed with Blackmore and Night front and center as the band surrounded them with a majestic backing. Singalong time again courtesy of Toast To Tomorrow. I never tire of this fun piece! A very dramatic Ghost Of A Rose came next. Moody, darkly beautiful. Goosebumps during this one.

Let's talk about a beautiful song. Wind In The Willows. Such a subtle vocal. Not an instrumental note wasted. Gorgeous. Being a fat mouthed boy on occasion, I shouted out a request to hear Moonlight Shadow. This seemed to please Blackmore who motioned the band to take a break. "This is how Candice and I play it at home." I never want to hear it any other way again! Such simple elegance. Blackmore said he'd like to play another English tune so we got the timeless Barbara Allen with the band returning to the stage as the piece progressed. Singing and dancing were the order of the day for Home Again with its bits of Hall Of The Mountain King, Hava Nagila, Drink! Drink! Drink!, and The Happy Wanderer. Earl Grey of Chimay, Lady Lynn, and everyone on and off stage had their opportunities to get festive!

The mood settled back down again for lovely readings of Diamonds & Rust and Long Long Time. The simple honesty of Night's voice and Blackmore's guitar manage to fill the venue while remaining blessedly intimate. Next up were 2 requested numbers: the powerful Loreley that included a dizzying violin solo, and a cover of Whiter Shade Of Pale that was bursting with electricity. The evening concluded with Fires At Midnight. Blackmore threw in a solo that brought me to tears with its melodic invention and quiet power. A night to remember, Lords and Ladies! Simply fantastic!

Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire - Warsaw Park, Ansonia, CT 6/26/16

It was a lovely afternoon in Ansonia. Warm but not hot. Not very humid and the occasional breeze. A perfect day for a Ren Faire.

This has become my essential Faire. A very positive feeling. A family vibe in 2 ways: it's a great afternoon event for family fun. It's also a place where I've come to feel like part of the family. Wonderful!

I saw Granny Gruesome once more as well as Momma. I heard some inspiring violin playing, caught some whip work and a bit of juggling. Also watched a bit of a fire act.

At the many booths, I plunked down cash for a cool figurine, amber oil, and a fabulous Indian spice blend. So many great items & vendors. Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire continues to warm my heart and tickle my brain. Have thee a great time, ladies and gentlemen. Adventures await you and yours! Huzzah!

Lacuna Coil - The Wolf Den At Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT 5/26/16

I haven't taken the trip up to Mohegan Sun casino in several years. The opportunity to see Italy's Lacuna Coil demanded I take the voyage. On the way, I hit the Parthenon diner for some chow then it was back on the road to Uncasville. Lacuna Coil have hit the road to support their new album Delirium. A new guitarist - Diego Cavallotti - has joined the band for this tour. He joined vocalists Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia; bassist Marco Coti Zelati; and drummer Ryan Blake Folden. The crowd was eager and impressively tattooed. Showtime!

Broken Crown Halo opener Nothing Stands In Our Way got things off to an energetic start. I was immediately impressed by the musicality of the players and how well the vocals fit within the music and within the lyric. Die & Rise was a sonic blast. Ferro and Scabbia pushed this one into the stratosphere. Scabbia grabbed the hungry crowd with Kill The Light from Dark Adrenaline and Ferro was a dervish of kinetic energy.

I loved the bass and drum assault of Victims - Zelati and Folden were crushing it as a rhythm section. The crowd went crazy for Spellbound off of Shallow Life. Scabbla introduced the band's new single The House Of Shame. Very heavy, full of a fresh sort of power. Everyone ate it up!

Back to the Comalies album for Heaven's A Lie. Cavallotti's guitar work meshed perfectly with the older pieces. A most excellent fit. Upsidedown was next leading into Swamped. The band was cooking and the crowd was amped up. The vibe was electric!

I smiled at the force Zelati and Cavallotti brought to To The Edge. Fire and Cybersleep were like gigantic pistons of sound. I felt myself flowing with the rhythms of each number. Very much in tune with the band. A glorious feeling.

The title song from Delirium dovetailed nicely in the set. New but still most definitely Lacuna Coil. Cristina Scabbia had the crowd in the palm of her hand as she urged them to sing the choruses of Depeche Mode's Enjoy The Silence, Everyone was more than happy to oblige! The set was winding down as we headed into Trip The Darkness. No shortage of energy, thankfully.

Zombies and Karmacode's Our Truth brought the evening to a close. Astounding set. Crazy, crazy performances by everyone. I cannot overemphasize the quality of Ferro and Scabbia's vocals. They totally compliment each other and merge into this imposing aural beast. Once heard, never forgotten! Killer good crowd. As icing on the cake, the band sat at a table a few hundred feet away and signed CDs for the fans. Fantastic evening!

Anderson Ponty Band - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 5/23/16

I really enjoy the concept of this band. Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty are each headliners in their own right. Put them together and you get progressive rock jazz fusion with classical and reggae elements as well. Take a look at the players joining them! Jamie Glaser on guitars, keys, and backing vocals. Wally Minko on keys. Baron Browne on bass. Rayford Griffin on drums and percussion. The list of credits between them is just ridiculous. Needless to say - my ears were in good hands!

The first of 2 sets started with One In The Rhythm Of Hope. A For Aria came next and the show was off and running - quickly finding its feet. A peppy Owner Of A Lonely Heart featured some off-the-hook violin from Ponty. A successful reinvention with Anderson in fine voice! The world/planet/universe vibe kept building with Listening With Me. The combination of musicians made more and more sense with each song. A reggaefied Time And A Word incorporated bits of She Loves You and What The World Needs Now Is Love followed by a fun chunk of One Love. Lighthearted and breezy. Infinite Mirage and Soul Eternal surged and melded together into what felt like 1 massive number. Ponty and the band roared through Ponty's Jig and set 1 finished on an up note courtesy of New New World.

This is a great time to discuss drugs and alcohol. Anderson began set 2 with a wonderfully spiritual reading of the first few verses of The Revealing Science Of God totally marred by several altered women in the crowd yelling to Anderson and eventually taking him and us out of the moment. As if to punctuate, an altered lout was loudly shouting "haha! Charade you are!" over and over at random intervals. He even said "Sorry. I know I'm being an asshole!" before continuing to prove himself correct for the rest of the evening. This type of obnoxious juvenile behavior is even more pathetic when the folks in question are in their 40s/50s/60s. Pathetic. Back to the set! Ponty's violin and Glaser's guitar were the heroes of the Texas tinged New Country. I loved the fun and lilting Never Ever. Back to the Yes catalogue for Wonderous Stories and Long Distance Runaround.Both were turned inside out and Griffin rocked the cajon!

Renaissance Of The Sun was an outstanding ensemble piece. State Of Independence was a personal highlight as it's been a favorite number of mine for decades! This was followed by a Ponty classic: Enigmatic Ocean. It bookended an absolutely murderous, furious drum solo from Griffin that registered as a tornado on the Weather Channel! I was quite simply speechless.

Jon Anderson told a wistful story about the first time he met Chris Squire. Glaser came in with gorgeous, delicate guitar work that brought us into And You And I. As the song progressed, it phased into a highly emotional violin solo from Ponty with Minko providing sweeping backing keys. A bass solo by Browne served as an introduction to the set closing Roundabout. The crowd was gonzo, wanting more! We got Egocentric Molecules morphing into Yours Is No Disgrace. The evening came to a close perfectly with a sweet take of Soon. Positive vibes from all, to all. Our reason to be here.

Justin Hayward - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 5/17/16

The last time I saw Justin Hayward live was a Moodies show back in 2005. Far too long! First, though, was his opener - the dazzling Mike Dawes. Dawes is a true 10 finger band. Bass, rhythm, lead, and percussion all from those 10 fingers (and 2 palms). He opened with a number called The Impossible. There was something very King Crimson-tinged to the vibe of it. Quite a nice beginning to the evening! Next he used a number titled Somewhere Home to explain his techniques before playing the song outright. Boogie Shred lived up to its name. Some molten riffage on it, yet playfully tuneful. Dawes' too brief set closed with a beautifully soulful cover of Prince's Purple Rain. A smart booker will book Dawes as a headliner. Top flight player & set!

Justin Hayward took the stage and was joined by Julie Ragins on keyboards for a very satisfying Tuesday Afternoon. A number from his album Songwriter - One Lonely Room followed. Mike Dawes had joined the stage during that one. Lovely To See You put a smile on every face in the venue. Hayward told the story of a new film in the making. He played us a song he wrote for it: an emotional, reflective piece called The Wind Of Heaven. Such a strong number.

Before I go any further, a guitar note. It seemed to me that Hayward played 2 different acoustic 6 string guitars (perhaps different tunings?) and an acoustic 12 string. OK Back to the set. In Your Blue Eyes was gorgeous and The Western Sky had the added lushness of Dawes and Ragins in full force. Next, Justin Hayward dipped deep into the Moody Blues back catalogue for 2 unexpected treats: You Can Never Go Home and Watching And Waiting. The crowd all but went berserk! Most everyone (myself included) sang along with both!

One Day, Someday kept the set rolling. This is a good time to point out that Hayward's voice sounded amazing. The years have added depth and confidence without taking away power. The Eastern Sun sounded gorgeous as did the sly What You Resist Persists. Never Comes The Day was a welcome friend that washed over the crowd like soft colorful waves of sound.

Another singalong tune in the form of Your Wildest Dreams delighted one and all. A hilarious behind the scenes tale served to introduce Forever Autumn from the Jeff Wayne project War Of The Worlds of the far flung 70s. A stunner! The set closed with the 1-2 punch of Question and Nights In White Satin. Dawes and Ragins supported Hayward tightly to leave the frenzied fans roaring. It was up to the front of the stage to sing and dance to the encore of I Know You're Out There Somewhere. An evening none will soon forget. A true legend.

Bright Night Winterfest 2 - Toad's Place, New Haven, CT 2/26/16

As I walked in to this show, the DJ was in fine form. I want to say his name was DJ MuMu but I cannot swear to it. Great beats. This was going to be a good one! I spoke to soon. As I started making my rounds, taking random shots of the crowd to catch the vibe - this little guy with a bad attitude started harassing me. Jumping to block my shots & trying to show off to his dim witted crew. Not just me, eith. Over the course of the night he was disrupting the DJs, yelling "play some fucking Hip Hop!" and pushing folks around on the floor. Quite a little buzz killer. The DJs were all in fine form, however, so the majority of the crowd was able to circumvent the blowhard boyz and enjoy themselves.

As the night started to wear on, more friends made their way in and the vibes got more positive. I had a nice conversation with a dancing guy & his model companion. Both very down to Earth and there to have fun. Great people. A few folks with lit fingers doing hand magic. A handshake here, a hug there. That's more like it!

Mary and Abby had a new dancer with them - I believe her name was Renata (I apologize if I got that wrong). Some of her friends were there to show support. She was a perfect fit - full of spirit and kinetic energy. I hope to see lots more of her at future shows! Not to neglect Abby & Mary - they deliver the goods every time they hit the stage!

I must say, despite the obnoxious ill-mannered idiots trying their very best to disrupt the evening, good friends & good spirits prevailed! The true dubstep DJs, dancers, and audience burst with love. That is never easily crushed. Take a look at my photos here and look at all those smiles! It's a beautiful thing. Sadly, I had to leave before a friend of mine did his set, but I will most definitely make up for that! Back soon, folks. :)

The Highland Rovers - Brennan's, Bridgeport, CT 2/19/16

I've been seeing my good friend Tom Portera play live music since the early 80s as part of Food On The Roof, then as a member of Diamond Roller. Both bands also featured the talents of Al (The Natalian) Natale. So I jumped at the chance to see them do a gig at Brennan's in Bridgeport with their Celtic ensemble The Highland Rovers. The band features Portera on guitars and vocals, Natale on bass, Jimmy Cyr on mandolin and vocals, Colleen Filush on fiddle and vocals, and Michael Ryan on drums and percussion. A very tight unit!

Brennan's was packed to bursting as we heard lots of traditional favorites: Whiskey You're The Devil, The Night Pat Murphy Died, The Old Dun Cow, Fields Of Athenry, Health To The Company, and Star Of The County Down to name a few. Vocal harmonies were spot on and the boisterous crowd joined on many of the choruses.

Filush had a nice spot with a medley of St. Anne's Reel / Silver Spear / Miss McLeod. Strong, fluid playing. Several judicious pop/rock covers like Seven Bridges Road, Galway Girl, 500 Miles, and Can't You See kept the crowd shouting and raising seemingly endless pints!

The band's originals like Alice and Paddy It'll Do stood every bit as strong as the trad pieces. As the night wore on, I had several nice conversations with patrons - most notably a bubbly woman named Katherine and her sister. Lots of drinking, dancing, singing, laughs, smiles, and wonderful music. Who could possibly ask for more?

Dynamo Glow Party - Toad's Place, New Haven, CT 1/29/16

The night was bitterly cold but clear. One of the scantily clad girls in line behind me was leaning up against the warmth of my jacket. I let them go in ahead of me because they just looked so cold. A guy on the street was handing out free pizza as a dude who said he was Bosnian professed his love for the butt of one of the scantily clad girls. I wasn't even inside Toad's Place yet and I was already having fun!

The DJ working onstage as doors opened turned out to be the best of the evening for the hours I was there. It was a fun and friendly crowd. A few women in impossibly tiny outfits defied the cold. Weed was in the air. Quite a few friends showed up. Kara, Mary, Keara, and many more.

As the crowd grew, they were looking to be taken to another level and these particular DJs were delivering fussy beats that just went nowhere. Clumsy mic work wasn't sealing the deal either. The crowd made the best of it but they deserved much better.

Having said that, I had tons of fun anyway thanks to the people. Someone asked to try on my glasses & I happily obliged. Hugs from friends & lots of laughs and smiles. I don't know how others perceive these dubstep shows, but these are great folks just looking to smile and dance and forget their cares for a few hours. Next time, stronger DJs can help immensely!

The Musical Box - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 1/15/16

I'm going to say at the outset that this performance was haunted by glitches. The mix was unbalanced and more than a bit muddy. Guitars and keyboards kept cutting in and out as well as several miscues by the guitarist, keyboardist & drummer. The drummer overplayed & went way off- book throughout the night. Having said that, it still felt right! It felt like a vintage Genesis show. Back in the day, Genesis had their share of gaffes on any given evening. This was a Black show supporting Selling England By The Pound. Watcher Of The Skies started the show. A very strong version with 1975 instrumental break rhythm. Fantastic vocal. Fine start. Next up was a solid performance of Dancing With The Moonlit Knight. Great vocal, a few dings instrumentally, but all were forgivable. 2 songs were in danger of unraveling during the show. The 1st was a hesitant take of The Cinema Show. There were moments where I swear they forgot where they were in the song. Not The Musical Box at their finest.

A pretty straightforward I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) with some fine bass work. The other incredibly plagued number of the evening was Firth Of Fifth. A botched keyboard intro & outro & wild timing issues on the guitar solo took me out of the song. We started to head back in the right direction with The Musical Box. Just a missed cue or two, but otherwise pretty darned power packed! A woman at the back laughingly complained: It's like porn!

This was the best version of Horizons I've ever heard anyone other than Steve Hackett play. Superb! Interesting to note that a number that gelled well was the ultra-complex epic The Battle Of Epping Forest. Vocals were nothing short of inspired and the guitar was stepped up a notch. Clearly, things were getting in gear! Well-timed as a glitchy Supper's Ready wouldn't have been very welcome. I needn't have worried. A splendid version. Why, the "spiny pickle head" headpiece even made an appearance during the Ikhnaton And Itsacon And Their Band Of Merry Men section. Another sartorial note: The outfit for the final reveal was the later Gabriel silver/white jacket & slacks. Excellent little touches!

Encore was a high energy reading of The Knife. Despite the gaffes & glitches & the drummer overplaying like a crackmule, I left the show feeling great. The Musical Box will easily move past an off night & I will happily be there for the next tour! They remain a must-see!

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