Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Music, Melodies and Men, OH MY!

Ok, I LOVE music. No secret. Anyone who knows me will tell you I appreciate it all. I cry at Madame Butterfly, shake it with Celia,  rock to Alice in Chains and hip hop it alllllll the way to Jay Z!

The one common thread with each genre? GREAT music moves you.
Can I sing? No.
Can I play an instrument? No.
Do I have an incredible ear and passion for music? YES and YES!

I think that is all that matters. Surely there are a myriad of reasons why music is created, but I cannot think of a better way to honor
talent by having it be received by people that, “Get it!”

This of course leads me to this blog entry...
Two incredible bands:
The Fab Faux and Prisoners of Second Avenue, (formerly known as, Steaks and Chops).

As of late, I have been granted unrestricted access both onstage and off.
When I shoot the performances they are of course a lot of fun.
You capture the thrill, the vibe and the energy of the night.
It is surreal when you can witness that fleeting second, when the musician, music and audience connect.  Instantaneously, I know when it happens. My biggest reward is when I get to share it with them after the fact. Typically they don’t even recall that moment or if by chance they do, they relive it briefly once again through the image.

Although those elements are thrilling, I think being apart of the unexpected, extemporaneous moments can be even more special.

Perhaps it is voyeuristic to some degree?  I am not sure.
For me, it is when you can really see people at their purest, most vulnerable and certainly most beautiful.

It is during this time, I can hear their nostalgic stories of when they had to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a month when they were kids on the road or when they talk about the legends they performed with.
They are real.

As I spent some time with them, I noticed one reoccurring red, sexy, sleek “thang” kept showing up in Jimmy's bands...
Her name is Lucy.

“Lucy(2)” as Jimmy calls it, is a guitar that holds a lot of sentimental value and is particularly instrumental for him when performing the type of music his bands play.

Because he said it best, I am using Jimmy’s words and not paraphrasing.
Here is an excerpt from Jimmy’s “Lucy” story:

“My Red Les Paul (named Lucy2) was made by the Gibson Custom Shop and is a replica of George Harrison's red Les Paul named Lucy. Lucy started out as a Gold Top owned by John Sebastian of The Lovin' Spoonful and was sold to Rick Derringer then of The McCoys, (Hang On Sloopy).  Rick had the guitar refinished in red, (because his Dad thought his was too beat up looking for a man with a hit record!) and traded it in to a dealer on 48th street in NYC.   In ’68 Eric Clapton thought it would make a perfect gift for George. It is that same guitar, that Clapton used when playing, “While my Guitar Gently Weeps.” A gift to George became a gift to all of us!”

After we spoke of the guitar, I asked if he would describe what appeals to him playing the music of the Beatles in The Fab Faux, verse the music of PO2A.

Again, in Jimmy’s own words:

“The Fab Faux are a music aural experience.  It is a modern chamber  ensemble, playing my generations classical music as intended by the composers (with very little license for freedom).

It was out of love and respect for the Beatles that the Fab Faux were born. We wanted to bring the records to the stage. 
We go through painstaking details to learn each note and nuance of The Beatles' recordings ... No wigs, suits, accents or fake noses in this band.
Does the philharmonic play mozart while dressed in a powdered wig? Of course not!
We are only concerned with great musicianship and a love for bringing the records to the stage. The soundtrack of our lives. 

PO2A on the other hand, is expanding the classic music made between 66-72.
PO2A is a band designed to jam and push the envelope in improvisation much like Hendrix, Cream, Zeppelin, Johnny Winter, Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield, (personal favorite and hero) Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Leslie West, Stevie Winwood, etc.  

They were there and will always be in my heart whenever playing any music.  
We want to combine all music forms into one happening event like Bill Graham’s vision at the Fillmore East. He would open up with Jazz, then move into Blues to finally close out the night with Rock.

In PO2a I get to summon the spirit of those players and times when music was totally about discovery and conversation between the human beings (no machines).
In this case, all of us like-minded in spirit and musical taste (Rich Pagano, John Conte and Paul Shaffer).”

There you have it.
Good is good, but great is great!
Empty adjective? Nope!
Sometimes a simple word, (great) packs a punch. 
Simply said and I believe the essence of both bands.

The Fab Faux is made up of:
Jimmy Vivino, (Music Director/Band Leader for Conan O'Brien and long time music partner of Levon Helm, John Sebastian, Al Kooper and Laura Nyro), Will Lee, (bassist for Paul Shaffer's CBS Orchestra on the Late Show With David Letterman and who's played with all 4 Beatles), Rich Pagano, (lead-singing drummer/producer, working with Rosanne Cash, Patti Smith, Ray Davies and more), Frank Agnello, (guitarist and working with the likes of Marshall Crenshaw and Phoebe Snow, and ace keyboardist/guitarist Jack Petruzzelli (Rufus Wainwright, Patti Smith, Joan Osborne Band, etc.).

The Prisoner’s of Second Avenue members are:
Rounding out this group with Jimmy and Rich, the incomparable John Conte on bass, (Southside Johnny, David Bowie, Billy Joel, Rosanne Cash..the list goes on and on!) with special guest appearances by none other than, Paul Schaffer,  Rosanne Cash, Al Kooper, GE Smith, Leslie West, Warren Haynes, Will Lee, David Johansen and Levon Helm 
Felix Cabrera, LuLu, Elaine Caswell, among others.

Upcoming shows:
The Fab Faux at the City Winery in New York City from December 27-30. The band will play a different classic Beatles album each night, along with a selection of other tunes.


Jimmy Vivino said...

just me Kimmy thanking you for the beautiful insightful shots of 2 really great days of music made with my favorite people.... you captured the joy and spirit with a keen eye and obvious love

jimmy v

Jimmy Marion said...

Kim..These pictures are amazing…. you capture the moments that create the memories of life....another addition to your continuous collection of great photographs....keep up the great work…