Category Archives: Blog

Welcome to Icon Fetch!

Hello fellow music fan.  Icon Fetch is a website devoted to going deeper into the music.  Through our Icon Fetch podcast, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with over 200 different artists, some legendary, some forgotten, and some who’s stories have yet to be written.  We also still believe in the album as the quintessential way to listen to music.  We’ve posted hundreds of reviews of both current and classic records, hoping to help you find something new for your ears.

Above all, we still believe in the power of music.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

–Tony Peters, creator, Icon Fetch

Rockin’ Orchestra – Brass Transit – the Music of Chicago (review)

Rockin’ Orchestra – Brass Transit – the Music of Chicago – 10/4/14, Schuster Performing Arts Center (review)

What happens when a cover band is actually better than the band that they’re imitating?  That is most certainly the case with Brass Transit, a Chicago tribute band that joined the Dayton Philharmonic to kick off the 5th season of their Rockin’ Orchestra series at the Schuster Center in Dayton, OH.  And imitate is not the right word, Brass Transit embodied the music of Chicago.

The band featured a stellar horn line that faithfully recreated the sophisticated arrangements of the original group (they even jumped into the crowd to solo at one point).  Guitarist Bob McAlpine showed incredible versatility, laying back for the quieter moments like “Call on Me,” then firing off searing licks that captured the spirit of original fret man Terry Kath, especially on their tremendous take of “Make Me Smile.”  Drummer Paul Delong was a monster, even doing a wild drum solo during a medley of “I’m a Man” and “Free.”

The person that elevated the entire show into the stratosphere was vocalist Neil Donnell, whose multi-octave range had already graced several other Rockin’ Orchestra performances of the past.  Here, Donnell nailed everything – he was gruff on “Color My World,” soared to dizzying heights on “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” and was buoyant on “Saturday in the Park.”  His range and depth is truly unparalleled.

The band was delicate with ballads like “If You Leave Me Now,” (which sounded phenomenal with orchestral accompaniment), but managed to rock heavily on tracks like “Dialogue Parts 1&2.”  The encore of “25 or 6 to 4” was truly moving.  The typically subdued crowd was on their feet, furiously clapping along.  The band even did an original song of theirs called “Last Time This Time,” which fit right in with the classic material.  The audience was so moved that a large number of them stayed after to purchase CD’s and get autographs.

I’ve seen Chicago 25 years ago, and they were nowhere near this good.  Brass Transit led a high-energy, hit-filled evening that, with or without orchestra, is a must see.  I’ve been to just about every performance of this Rockin’ Orchestra series over the last five years – this was the best one, by far.    —Tony Peters

Happy Together Tour (Concert Review)

Happy Together Tour – Fraze Pavilion – Kettering, OH  – 8/6/14

While every other summer package tour has faded away, the original Happy Together Tour continues to thrive.  In fact, the 2014 edition is the biggest yet, with the tour hitting over 50 cities across the country.  The show made a stop at Fraze Pavilion on August 6th, with the near-capacity crowd treated to a hits-filled evening of Sixties and early Seventies’ nostalgia.

The night opened with Mitch Ryder, who played the Dayton area many times back in his heyday.  He started with “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” originally a hit for the Righteous Brothers, which Ryder & the Detroit Wheels put back on the charts just months after the original in 1965.  The five-song set was highlighted by “Sock it to Me Baby,” which he said “only went to #4 because people thought it had dirty lyrics.”  Of course, his slot ended with “Devil With the Blue Dress.”

Then came Mark Farner, formerly of Grand Funk Railroad, who added a little grit to the show.  Still sporting his signature ponytail and bright red guitar, he played his five most-famous songs.  While many of the other artists’ voices showed considerable wear, Farner could still amazingly hit those soaring high notes on “Bad Time” and “The Locomotion.”  He closed his portion with a rousing version of the lengthy “I’m Your Captain.”

After a brief intermission, Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, took the stage, dressed in a pink shirt, black jacket and sunglasses.  He sounded great through the goofy “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” but apologized for his difficulty through the ironic “Easy to Be Hard.”  The soulful “Eli’s Coming” was one of the real highlights of the evening.  His set was capped by an audience sing-a-long of “Joy to the World.”

Then came Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan of the Turtles, the architects of this tour, which began 30 years ago.  Volman emerged wearing a blue sequined jacket, while PSY’s “Gangnam Style” played on the video screen.  When Kaylan joined him, he questioned “what happened to our music,” before launching into “She’d Rather Be With Me.”  The unlikeliest of rock stars, the duo ran through all their major hits, while throwing comedy bits in-between.  Kaylan did most of the singing, while Volman’s big showcase came at the beginning of “You Showed Me,” as he butchered several Doors’ songs.  Their set closed with an extended version of “Happy Together.”

As an added treat, all four artists were invited back, and each sang a snippet of his biggest hit, before reprising the last stanza of “Happy Together” for the finale.

What truly held the entire show together was the stellar band, led by smokin’ guitarist Godfrey Townsend, who they joked had been kicked out of several bands, including Alan Parsons.  Incidentally, Gary Lewis of the Playboys did not play, due to illness.  But, the remaining four artists more than covered for him.

With 2014 setting a record for the amount of shows on the tour, Happy Together is showing no signs of slowing down.  We can’t wait til next year.  —Tony Peters

Jersey Boys Prize Pack Announced!

Congratulations to Rogers Motley of Richmond, Virginia.  He’s the winner of the “Jersey Boys Prize Pack.”  He gets a copy of the movie soundtrack, plus the new, two-disc compilation “Audio with a ‘G’,” chronicling the talents of Four Seasons’ member Bob Gaudio.  Both sets are courtesy of Rhino Records and Icon Fetch!

Legacy Recordings – Record Store Day Preview

The day after Thanksgiving has recently been filled with bargain shoppers, wiling to brave long lines, early-morning hours, and large crowds to grab that unbelievable steal for the holidays.  But, this November 29 is also known as Back to Black Friday, a day for music fans to return to their favorite independent record store to get their hands on limited-edition vinyl, made available especially for this Record Store Day-sponsored event.

Legacy Recordings has got an impressive list of vinyl exclusives that includes titles from Bob Dylan, Cheap Trick, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Paul Simon, Sly & the Family Stone, Roy Orbison and the Clash.  The company was kind enough to send us several titles in anticipation of Back to Black Friday.

First of all, if you haven’t opened a piece of vinyl in awhile, you should.  The CD never cut it as something cool to unwrap, and mp3’s take the fun out of it completely.  Here, having the full-size covers, with artwork intact, and liner notes & lyrics you can actually read, is fantastic.

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (mono)

Miles Davis – Jazz Tracks (mono)

Miles & Monk – at Newport (mono)

These three titles come from Legacy’s nine-disc Original Mono Recordings box (read our review), restoring these classic Miles’ titles to their original, mono mix, which have been lost for years.  Kind of Blue sounds fantastic with all the instruments blended together.  And, it actually blows away my original mono copy from 1959 – this new mix is markedly warmer.  Jazz Track is the rarest of the bunch, a soundtrack to a long-lost French movie, which just happens to feature (on some tracks) the same lineup that would play on Kind of Blue a few months later.  Miles & Monk showcases two pillars of jazz, not playing together, but separate concerts from five years apart.

Each album faithfully reproduces the front and back cover, and the classic, “six-eye” Columbia record label.  The albums are pressed on thick, 180-gram vinyl, which is very quiet, and come housed in a sturdy, plastic inner sleeve.

A final note on Kind of Blue – for many years, side two of the original album ran too slow.  This was eventually corrected in later CD pressings, and has also been fixed for this mono release.

Paul Simon – Paul Simon

Paul Simon – There Goes Rhymin’ Simon

Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years

The first three studio albums that Simon cut during his solo career, these are also some of the best of his entire catalog.  Also faithfully reproducing the covers – right down to Rhymin Simon’s gatefold with all the lyrics, and pressed on thick vinyl.  The one difference is that each Simon title comes with a download card featuring a code that allows you to grab free mp3’s of all the tracks.  This is a nice touch – even those who don’t have a turntable can still enjoy this great music.

Other notable Legacy titles set to go include Side Tracks from Bob Dylan, a 3-LP collection of singles and non-LP tracks, originally released on the Bob Dylan Complete Recordings box set.  Cheap Trick – The Classic Albums: 1977-1979 features five albums released in a dizzying two-year creative peak for the band – Cheap Trick, In Color, Heaven Tonight, Live Budokan and Dream Police.  Plus a 7-inch single from Jimi Hendrix of “Fire” b/w “Foxey Lady” taken from the recently-unearthed Miami Pop Festival.  —Tony Peters

Rockin’ Orchestra – Music of Paul McCartney (review)

Rockin’ Orchestra – Music of Paul McCartney – Schuster Center, Dayton, OH (10/18/13):

The 4th year of the Dayton Philharmonic’s Rockin’ Orchestra kicked off with Live and Let Die, the Symphonic Tribute to Paul McCartney – it turned out to be one of the finest shows in the entire history of the series.

Everything about this show was fantastic.  Tony Kishman had the lead role, handling the vocals and instrumentation of McCartney – no easy task for anyone.  Yet, he took on the part with the reverence of a true fan.  Kishman sounded like Paul (there were certain portions of the concert where I had to tell myself that this WASN’T McCartney), and he was able to hit the high notes that Sir Paul can’t hit anymore. He also had a lot of Paul’s banter down – faux British accent and all.  Yet, it never  bordered on cheesy – it was a loving tribute.

The evening kicked off with a truncated version of “Band on the Run,” before segueing into the obvious opener “Hello Goodbye.”  The show was equal parts McCartney solo and classic Beatles songs.  It was presented in a way that, if you preferred either one, it didn’t matter, because one of your favorites was coming up next.  “Listen to What the Man Said” featured some fine sax work, while the orchestra really shone brightly on “Silly Love Songs.”  Kishman is a great showman, and got the crowd on their feet and screaming during “I Saw Her Standing There.”  “Penny Lane” had some crazy-high trumpet parts, “Eleanor Rigby” was eerie and beautiful with a full orchestra, while “Live and Let Die” was sheer bombast, one of the show’s highlights.

Obvious choices like “The Long & Winding Road” and “Let it Be” were peppered in with some real surprises – the acoustic “Bluebird” (an album track from Band on the Run) was gorgeous, while “No More Lonely Nights” was the lone song played from the Eighties.  Kishman also gave his bandmates a chance in the spotlight – letting them sing George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun,” and John Lennon’s “I Am the Walrus.”  Toward the end of the evening, the band ran through a medley of “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “My Love,” and “Let Em In,” which had a clever arrangement that kept things going.  “Yesterday” had a shocking amount of emotional power with the symphonic accompaniment.

The show came to a close with the “Golden Slumbers Medley” off of Abbey Road, with the classic lines: “And in the end / the love you take / is equal to / the love you make.”  There was even an encore – the crowd rose to their feet for the sing-a-long of “Hey Jude” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

The Dayton Philharmonic sounded incredibly inspired, really adding some rich colors to these fabulous, time-proven classics.

Live and Let Die were a fantastic band – each member held their own weight – great drumming and guitar work especially.  However, the real star was Kishman, who sounded great and really worked the crowd.  Some of these Rockin’ Orchestra shows can seem a little stuffy – this is a venue usually reserved for high-brow listening.  But, the Tribute to Paul McCartney was an absolute blast, easily one of the finest shows of the series’ entire four year history.  –Tony Peters

Tony Bennett (Fraze Pavilion) (review)

Tony Bennett – Fraze Pavilion – 8/25/13 (concert review)

Phenomenal.  Spine-chillingly good.  Not the kind of accolades usually lauded on an artist well into his seventh decade of performing.  Yet, Tony Bennett is no ordinary singer – he’s a national treasure.  The last significant link from the pre-rock era – the Golden Age of Song, Bennett, now 87, continues to amaze.

The evening began with Bennett’s daughter, Antonia, a fantastic singer in her own right, sporting long red hair, and a pair of sunglasses to shield the setting Ohio sun.  Her six-song set drew from the same fertile ground as her father’s.  What sets her apart is her keen ability to make a song swing, something certainly perfected watching her dad from the wings.  Especially good was her gorgeous take on “Embraceable You.”

As Antonia exited, a vintage recording of Frank Sinatra played, where he gushed that “Tony Bennett is the greatest singer in the world.”  And, right on cue, came the legendary performer out on the stage.

As the singer slowly made his way to the front, he was grinning ear to ear – something he never stopped doing the entire time.  Clad in his signature yellow jacket, shirt and tie, he opened with “Watch What Happens,” belting out phrases with an uncanny ease.  Backed by a quartet of guitar, piano, bass & drums, featuring Harold Jones, who was Count Basie’s drummer of choice.  What you realize is that this man has been given a rare gift.  Not merely going through the motions like so many older artists do, Bennett still has that unbelievable power in his voice

Most of the songs were ballads, but Bennett showed he could still swing with the jumping “I Got Rhythm. “  He joked that he and Rosemary Clooney were the original American Idols (on early black & white television) before launching into his surprise hit cover of Hank Williams’ “Cold Cold Heart.”  He brought back his daughter for a tender reading of “Old Friends,” their voices interlocking perfectly.

Sometimes, he only sang a verse and chorus, as in “Just in Time” or “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” – the latter featured a very spirited performance.  Yet, he also showed incredible restraint – you could hear the crickets chirping over the extremely quiet “The Shadow of Your Smile.”  It is so difficult to whisper in key, yet Bennett does it with little effort.  “The Way You Look Tonight” was stunning in its sparse voice/guitar arrangement.

The fact that before one song he told a story about how Bob Hope came up with the name “Tony Bennett,” and then before the next, mentioned a forthcoming duets album with Lady Gaga, shows the amount of living that this incredible man has done – and that he’s not afraid to sing with anyone.

No Bennett show would be complete without “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” which he still sings with a rare passion, especially for a man who’s called New York his home almost his entire life.  Appropriately, the evening ended with the Charlie Chaplin tear-jerker “Smile,” and then “When You’re Smiling.”

Bennett himself probably only played for 70 minutes – a gentlemen behind me huffed this fact as we were leaving.  Yet, Bennett never sat down, and only used a water glass as a prop during “One For My Baby.”  Ironically, two guys in front of us, easily 20 years Bennett’s junior, had to get up to use the restroom twice in that same time period.

It is obvious when an artist is doing something he loves, and Tony Bennett loves making people happy.  Everyone should see this amazing performer while you still can.  Yet, judging by the vigor that he threw into this concert, he’s shown no sign of slowing down.  –Tony Peters

Clapton’s Crossroads Festival (review)

Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 documentary (review)

Film captures the highlights of a killer concert with an all star cast

Star-studded benefit concerts don’t always work.  For one, raising money often takes precedence over musical integrity.  Second, musicians almost never have time to actually practice for an event like this.  As a result, these type of concerts quickly fall into one giant jam session – fun for the musicians, but often a snore-fest for the audience.

That’s what makes Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 such a delight – it’s one helluva good show.  Sure, there’s plenty of Clapton, but he also gives ample spotlight to an amazing array of artists.  He and Vince Gill turn in a chugging version of “Lay Down Sally,” while Keith Richards joins him for a ragged “Key to the Highway.”  Both Keith Urban and John Mayer get to show off their fret chops, as solo acts, and especially for their duet, the Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down.”  Robert Cray looks like he stepped out of the “Smoking Gun” video from 1986, as he’s backed by the highly-underrated Los Lobos for “Just Got to Know.”

Buddy Guy burns up a ferocious “Damn Right I Got the Blues,” even sharing the stage with 14-year old prodigy Quinn Sullivan, who not surprisingly looks a little overwhelmed by all the legends on stage.

The real highlight were the Allman Brothers, who opened with the hypnotic “Don’t Want You No More / It’s Not My Cross to Bear,” with Gregg Allman still in fine growl, before inviting Clapton back to the stage for a spine-chilling “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad” (originally played alongside Duane Allman in Derek & the Dominos).  Later, the trio of Allman, Derek Trucks & Warren Haynes did stunning takes of “The Needle & the Damage Done” and “Midnight Rider.”

Clapton, himself, unearthed another Derek & the Dominos gem, “Got to Get Better in a Little While,” before the show closer, a searing “Sunshine of Your Love,” featuring fantastic guitar & vocals from Doyle Bramhall II.

The much-hyped Gary Clark Jr was probably the biggest disappointment – not bad, just not living up to his billing.  With a glutton of stellar guitarists, Clark just didn’t have the chops to stand toe to toe with the others.  Great voice, and marks for passion, but his guitar playing was noisy and lacked technique.

Another thing that elevated the documentary was the fantastic camera work – often zooming in on hands on the fretboard or feet stomping on a pedal, it gave you a rare, up close view of the music from the stage.

Keep an eye out for this when it comes out on DVD.  –Tony Peters

Sail Rock 2013 (Concert Review)

Sail Rock Tour – Fraze Pavilion – Kettering, OH (8/9/13) (concert review)

Seven bands make for a hit-filled trip down memory lane

There was a time, right before the dawn of MTV, when popular music was dominated by breezy, harmony-filled soft rock.  In celebration of the genre, Sail Rock 2013 rolled into Fraze Pavilion featuring Christopher Cross, Orleans, Firefall, Gary Wright, Robbie Dupree, John Ford Coley & Player.

Because there were so many bands, the show moved along at breakneck pace.  The evening began with John Ford Coley, who had a string of mellow Seventies’ hits with his partner England Dan, who passed away in 2009.  Coley oddly made no mention of his deceased partner (who sang all the hits), but did formidable versions of “We’ll Never Have to Say Goodbye Again,” and “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.”  The highlight of his short set was the Todd Rundgren-penned “Love is the Answer,” which featured a fantastic soprano sax solo from Firefall multi-instrumentalist David Muse. Before you could blink, Coley gave way to Robbie Dupree, who had his soulful voice still intact for his two early Eighties’ smashes – the Doobie Brother-homage “Steal Away” and the blue-eyed soulful “Hot Rod Hearts.”

After only those pair of songs, Dupree brought on Peter Beckett and Ronn Moss of Player.  While the other bands were dressed in more casual attire, these guys still looked like rockers – Moss wore a bright yellow shirt and Beckett still sported long hair and sunglasses.  They did their only two hits – “This Time I’m in It For Love,” and “Baby Come Back,” which sounded fantastic.  Beckett played an impressive solo on his Les Paul and could still hit the high falsetto notes at the end – they honestly looked like they were having a blast.

But, just like turning the radio dial, after only two tunes, Player ushered in Gary Wright, who opened with a funky rendition of “Love is Alive” – which featured another fantastic Muse solo.  Then, he mentioned his friendship with George Harrison which helped inspire the classic “Dream Weaver.”  Although Wright has played Fraze several times as part of package tours, this stay was very brief – just those two songs, and he never picked up his signature, over-the-shoulder synthesizer.

The show progressed at a rapid pace as Wright segued into Firefall, who launched into “Just Remember I Love You,” which just missed the Top Ten in 1977, before leading the audience in a sing-a-long of their huge smash, “You Are the Woman.”  The real highlight of the entire evening was Firefall’s closer, the eerie “Strange Way,” which sped up near the end and stretched out several minutes longer, showcasing a jaw-dropping flute solo, once again from the incredibly talented Muse.

Orleans, who acted as the house band all night, were next.  They opened with the appropriate “Let There Be Music,” then the acoustic “Dance With Me,” which member (and former US Congressman) John Hall introduced as “the song where my mom finally stopped bugging me about going to college.”  The band did a surprisingly Caribbean-tinged rendition of the King Harvest nugget “Dancing in the Moonlight,” and the buoyant, harmony-filled “Love Takes Time.”  Orleans’ obvious set closer was “Still the One,” which featured fantastic dual lead solos from Hall and Dennis Amero, and got the audience singing along.

The final act on the bill was multi-Grammy winner Christopher Cross, who looked unassuming in a baseball hat.  He opened with “Never Be the Same,” one of four Top 20 hits from his debut album, which featured a fine alto sax solo from Alex Budman, then another smash, “Arthur’s Theme.”  As the headliner, Cross had the freedom to play the only new song of the evening, “Dreamer,” which he dedicated to both the Wright Brothers and Steve Jobs. The final two songs of his set were the breezy “Sailing,” and a rousing take on “Ride Like the Wind,” which featured some amazingly deft guitar lines from Cross – who knew he could play guitar like that?

Cross exited, yet the evening wasn’t totally over.  Members of Firefall, Orleans, and Player returned for a good-time reading of “Take It Easy.” It certainly made sense, since the entire mellow rock genre was directly descended from the tight harmonies and acoustic melodies of the Eagles.   It got the audience dancing and left everyone singing on the way to the car.

There’s not a single person in this concert that you would recognize if they were walking down the street.  Yet, these artists were responsible for dozens of songs collectively that you can still hear everyday on the radio. While there have been numerous package tours, I’ve never been to one with so many artista.  This kept the hit-quotient at an absolute peak, making for a really enjoyable evening.  –Tony Peters

Heart – Cincinnati, OH (Concert Review)

Heart with the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience: The Heartbreaker Tour – Riverbend Music Center – Cincinnati, OH – 7/27/13 (review)

Ann & Nancy explore their Zep roots and show they can still bring it

Heart’s connection to Led Zeppelin has always been a strong one.  Their early singles like “Crazy on You” and “Barracuda,” were heavily influenced by the British quartet, and the sisters almost never played a show without slipping in a Zeppelin number or two.  When it came time to pay tribute to their idols, Heart returned the debt – unleashing a stunning performance of “Stairway to Heaven” last year at the Kennedy Center Honors, featuring Jason Bonham (son of John) on drums.  It was a rendition so good, they were forced to make it a download on iTunes.  A recent Icon Fetch interview with Ann Wilson revealed other future plans involving their Dog & Butterfly album, but nurturing this link between Zeppelin and Heart just made sense.  Hence:  The Heartbreaker Tour.

The night opened with the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience.  The eight-song set, which led with a spirited take on “Rock and Roll,” managed to be both furious and reverent at the same time.  Lead singer James Dylan eerily evoked Robert Plant, deftly hitting those banshee wails with ease, while the rest of the band faithfully captured the spirit of their drummer’s lineage.

Then Heart took the stage to the crunching chords of “Barracuda,” and you realize that Ann Wilson hasn’t lost anything.  While most classic rock bands are now tuning down and singing in a lower register, Ann still nails the crazy high notes in songs like “Heartless” and “Kick it Out” with precision.  It was a lean, 13-song set – a run through of their biggest tracks with no filler.  They played a lone new song off their fantastic recent Fanatic album, “Dear Old America,” and paid homage to another hero, Elton John, in “I Need You to Turn To” (a song off Elton’s 1970 debut).  The sisters made reference to “surviving the Eighties” before diving into a gorgeous “These Dreams.”  Ann turned in a passionate take on their #1 smash “Alone,” while Nancy showed off her acoustic chops during the final song of the set, “Crazy on You.”

With Bonham back in tow, Heart returned with a six-song encore of Zeppelin classics.  They began with a chilling take on “The Battle of Evermore,” which featured only Ann & Nancy on acoustic guitars and vocals, and left everyone with goose bumps.  The moody “Rain Song” gave way to the face-peeling “Immigrant Song” – Robert Plant always struggled with this song, and almost never played it live, yet Ann owned it. The last two choices were obvious – the ominous, Middle Eastern churning “Kashmir” was fantastic, but was merely the appetizer to the show-stopper, “Stairway to Heaven.”  Ann turned in a spine-chilling, drop-dead performance.  The arrangement was similar to the Kennedy Honors, featuring the choir at the end.  Once again you realize that nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, can sing this song as well as Heart.

Very few veteran bands are still turning in top-notch performances – Heart is definitely on that short list.  If you haven’t seen them yet – you will not be disappointed.  –Tony Peters