GLASS TIGER AND PLATINUM BLONDE ROCK THE FALLS

markholmes

Mark Holmes of Platinum Blonde

Alan Frew of Glass Tiger tells one of his many musical tales.

Alan Frew of Glass Tiger tells one of his many musical tales.

 

A flashback to the 80’s occurred Sunday in Niagara Falls, NY when Canadian super groups Glass Tiger and Platinum Blonde invaded Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel for a night of some great musical memories.

Platinum Blonde, currently performing as a trio, took the stage following a video montage of 80’s clips.  They then began a highly energetic set of past hits, along with some new features from their latest album “Now & Never”.

Singer Mark Holmes had no problem getting the nearly sold out crowd into the show.  Along with guitarist Sergio Galli and drummer Dan Todd, the trio belted out fan favorites such as “Crying Over You” and “Contact”.  In addition to their classics, Platinum Blonde treated everyone with “Beautiful” and “Valentine”, two songs off their latest “Now & Never” album.

If Platinum Blonde had Seneca rocking during the first half, Glass Tiger had the place rocking even more during the second.  The five-time Juno award winners and one-time Grammy nominees took the stage to a slightly remixed version of “I’m Still Searching”.  Just as he always has, lead singer Alan Frew played to the audience with all his Scottish charisma.  In between songs Frew entertained the crowd with his tales of working with “Roderick” Stewart and Bryan Adams.  He got some chuckles after explaining how after the artists had sung with Glass Tiger on “My Town” and “I Will Be There” respectively, they both became famous and then were never heard from again.

The majority of Glass Tiger’s set was filled with their standard sing-along classics:  “Someday”, “You’re What I Look For”, and “My Song”.  The group had the audience rocking Scottish style with the fan favorite “Thin Red Line”.  The place was jumping again with the guitar-laden lustful “Animal Heart”.  Frew gave a heartfelt shout out to all military personnel from both sides of the border before performing a moving rendition of “Diamond Sun”.

Highlights of the show included Frew’s solo hit “Healing Hands” as well as the two latest Glass Tiger songs:  the emotion—packed “I Take It Back” and the sexy “Love Is On The Way”.  Both tunes can be found on Glass Tiger’s latest album “Then, Now, Next”.

When watching him perform, it’s easy to witness how personable Alan Frew is.  At one point in the show he sat on the edge of the stage, making everyone feel he was singing to just them for the moment.  One fan offered up their camera and without missing a beat in the song, Frew managed to take pictures of each band member.  He took an obligatory selfie with another fan and shook the hands of many.

Before wittingly introducing himself to the audience as “Sean Connery”, Frew acknowledged his band mates.  Filling in for bassist Wayne Parker (who could not be with the band for this performance) was Tommy Lewis, a member of Frew’s solo band.  Back up vocals were performed by songstress Carmela Long.  Chris McNeil, another member of Frew’s solo band, appeared on drums and long-time Glass Tiger members Sam Reid and Al Connelly rounded out the band on keyboards and guitar.

Although he had teasingly said at the start of the show that the band would not be performing their signature hit “Don’ Forget Me (When I’m Gone)”, Frew and crew returned for an encore of the smash pop tune, which had everyone dancing and singing along.

For a band that had not performed a concert in the United States in almost thirty years, it seemed as if Glass Tiger had never left.  These talented musicians have a style that is endless. Their music speaks volumes even after all these years.  And like the power of Niagara, their popularity still endures.

 

A Ride Along The “Music Express”

When I began reading Keith Sharp’s ode to his music magazine “Music Express:  The Rise, Fall & Resurrection of Canada’s Music Magazine”, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  What I got was not only a decent read, but a new insight into Canadian music.

Following a brief foreword by Glass Tiger’s Alan Frew, Sharp leads us from the infancy stages of the “Alberta Music Express” to its current days as “The Music Express” within the city of Toronto.  Along the way we embark on a journey featuring not only Canadian artists, but international stars as well.  Anyone who is or was anyone in the music business has appeared within the pages of “Music Express”.

Being from America many of the names mentioned in the book were not familiar to me.  It was interesting to learn about groups with names such as Zon, Toronto and Martha And The Muffins.  Even more interesting was learning Mike Reno’s real last name is Rynowski, Bryan Adams was once known as Bryan Guy Adams and Jim Vallance was in a group called Prism.  I found a common ground with the mention of comedians John Candy, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas and verified the fact that the El Macombo was indeed one of the hottest clubs for acts to play.

I found Sharp’s connection with the members of Iron Maiden humorous, especially on the soccer field.  As I read about the frequent soccer matches between the “Music Express” staff and Iron Maiden, I was hoping to read about the game that took out Alan Frew’s knee.  The incident is briefly mentioned in the acknowledgements.

I was thrilled to learn that Platinum Blonde have actually been to Boston, appearing at WBCN’s Rock Expo in 1986.  They, along with Wendy O. Williams, appeared at the “Music Express” booth.  The Blondes and Williams signed autographs while WBCN radio personality Carter Allen interviewed Sharp on-air to plug the magazine.

Another memorable moment mentioned in the book was how Sharp managed to upstage the Juno awards (more than once) with his own Music Express awards.  Canada’s attempt at their own Live Aid, called Can-Aid, ended up being not much more than a financial disaster.  Then there is the amazing tale of how they barely pulled off a fundraising concert as part of their music award show.  The event was to raise funds for young burn victim Joey Philion.  The club they were using had just been constructed and unbeknownst to the event holders, didn’t have a liquor license yet.  Probably the most remarkable event Sharp witnessed was Bryan Adams playing both sides of the Berlin wall in 1988

The book also reveals the trials and tribulations of Canadian groups making or breaking it in the United States.  Many groups like Loverboy and Glass Tiger were faced with record label shake-ups which hindered their growth south of the border.  Loverboy hit it big just as the American music industry was being affected by a “payola scandal”.  Priority for promoting Glass Tiger was lost when their original label Manhattan Records evolved into Capitol-EMI.

Aside from the choppiness of the writing in places and various grammatical and factual errors (Glass Tiger’s song is “I’m Still Searching” not “I’m Still Standing” and Bryan Adams’ album is “Waking Up The Neighbours” not “Waking Up The Neighbourhood”), “Music Express:  The Rise, Fall & Resurrection of Canada’s Music Magazine” is still a good read for Canadian and non-Canadian music fans alike.  It’s also good to know that through everything, the publication is once again going strong in the digital age.

Hey, People! Get A Grip!

Is everyone taking crazy pills these days?

Within the past week there have been two news stories which shouldn’t even have been news stories.  All because some people can’t get a grip and deal with stuff that happens.

First there was the family who were tossed from an airplane for a tweet the father made.  The father is an “A-list” passenger and had his six and nine-year old kids with him.  The agent at the gate would not let the kids board with him.  So the father did what any dissed customer, whether it be from a flight or a supermarket, would do:  he tweeted about it.  The agent found out and didn’t like it and that is what caused the family to be asked to leave.

First of all, you ask a parent to leave their SIX and NINE year old kids alone while he boards the plane by himself.  Then you get pissed off because he calls you rude in a tweet?  He has a right to free speech, he didn’t threaten anyone and as they tell everyone in customer service:  treat your customers poorly and they will tell at least ten of their friends.  Well, he told a lot more than that with that tweet.

Yesterday a four-year-old boy in Monroe, CT innocently asked a fellow patron in a doughnut shop if she had a “baby in her belly”.  The woman, who is not pregnant, was not upset by his remark but apparently it really pissed off one of the employees.  The kid and his family have been banned from the store because the child was “rude”.  Really?  Who is being rude as well as stupid for banning a four-year-old?  The kid didn’t know he said anything wrong.  Kids at that age say all kinds of crazy things.

There are way more important things in this world to be griping about than someone tweeting that you are rude or kicking four-year-olds out of  doughnut shops because they thought a fat woman was pregnant.  We have planes being shot down.  We have countries fighting against each other.  We have starving people all over the world.  We have people who hate one another because of a religion, a color or a sexual preference.  Instead of sweating the piddly shit, the tweets and innocent comments, let’s concentrate on the bigger picture for once.

For chrissakes, just get a fucking GRIP, will ya?

What does greed get you? Empty supermarket shelves

Anyone who lives in New England is probably somewhat familiar with the Demoulas family and their chain of MarketBasket stores.  If you are familiar with the family and the store, then I’m sure you are aware of all the bullshit going on within this franchise.

What once had been a highly successful, customer-friendly, pocketbook friendly supermarket has become a scenario of long-time employees being fired, supermarket shelves going empty and consumers becoming frustrated and angry.  If the powers that are in control keep going like they’re going, this store won’t exist much longer.

This is all because two sides of the Demoulas family can’t get along.  One member on the “good” side jumped ship and went to the “bad” side, giving the “bad” side majority.  That’s how they were able to oust the leader of the “good” side, Arthur T. Demoulas.  In doing so they have started destroying the great thing they once had.

If this mess ever does get resolved, it’s going to take a lot to make employees feel like they are “part of the family” again.  It will also take a while for customers to feel like MarketBasket is worth shopping again.

A Tomato Tale

I really love the seniors.  I really do.  There certainly is a need to respect people who are older than the dirt they walk on, isn’t there?

However, there are times when some older folks seem to think that because they’ve been around since time began, they know everything there is to know about anything and people younger than they are don’t know a thing.  Even if that younger person is fifty years old.

I’m referring to an incident that happened yesterday at the supermarket between my husband and an elderly lady.  The elderly lady was with another woman who was also elderly but not as elderly.  The not as elderly lady was trying to help the very elderly lady but it seemed, at least to my husband’s perspective, that the very elderly lady was being a very ornery bitch.

They were standing in the produce section near the tomatoes.  My husband was about to pick up a package of cherry tomatoes, which I love to have in our salad.  The ornery elderly lady turns to him and says, “Oh, the vine tomatoes are the best.”

Just to make small talk my husband replied, “My wife really likes cherry tomatoes in her salad.”

The old lady looked at him like he had horns growing out of his head.  “Ugh.  Why would anyone like cherry tomatoes?  These are the best!”

My husband is not one who normally gets riled up easily.  But this bitchy bitty took him the wrong way.  Let’s just say my husband didn’t have a very pleasant reply.

After he told me the story I told him that maybe she was getting kickbacks from the vine tomato farmers.  You know, maybe a free game of Bingo for every tomato she sells.

I would have told her that I have great respect for all tomatoes, I love all kinds of the red veggie and it is my favorite.  I’ve never not liked a tomato I’ve ever met.

Unfortunately I can’t say the same for all little old ladies.

Is there something wrong with this picture?

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve become confused by a few people I associate with and the things that they do.

First there is a client of mine I’ll call “Mary”.  She is an older woman who loves to talk and I’m more than obliged to listen.  One thing Mary has harked about is her stance on abortion.  She is flat-out against it and has made it quite clear to me.  Which I’m fine with.  I’m neutral on the subject myself.  To me it’s every woman’s right to do with her body what she wants.  But I began questioning Mary’s integrity when she mentioned that she just paid for her six-teen-year-old grand-daughter to have an abortion because the girl had turned to her for advice, afraid of what her parents would say/do/think.  I didn’t say anything to Mary when she concluded her story with “she’ll be better off for it”.

Another recent event had me at a fancy charity dinner to support a local women’s shelter.  I had been invited by another client I had done work for and greatly respected.  I’ll call this one “Bob”.  Bob is a married man with three kids.  Bob is a big supporter of women’s causes, especially charities that aid in helping abused women.  He has donated a ton of his time and money to these causes.  So you can imagine my surprise when I heard him speaking to another male peer at the dinner about how “Cindy was a no-good cunt”, referring to the chairwoman of the charity!  I was even more shocked when I visited the account of one of Bob’s social media sites and discovered a ton of porn pictures.  I’m not going into detail about the photos here but let’s just say I think Bob could be spending some time behind bars in the future.

The fact that Mary bitches about abortion and then pays for her grand-daughter to have one doesn’t bother me.  The fact that Bob called the chairwoman of the charity he was supporting a “cunt” and looks at graphic porn on his computer all day doesn’t bother me either.  The things they do are their business.  They have to live with the consequences.  What does bother me about these two is the fact that they are hypocrites.

I’m not perfect either but I certainly wouldn’t go around saying I don’t agree with abortion and then turn around and pay for someone to have one.  I also certainly wouldn’t preach all these wonderful things about this women’s charity and that women’s charity and all the work I’ve done for such-and-such women’s charity and then call a woman (and probably other women too) derogatory names and get off on looking at nude pictures of strange women on Instagram.

Both of these scenarios would be like going to a Third World country to help aid hungry people.  While the very people you are there to help feed are eating nothing but rice, you are sitting down to filet mignon.

What’s wrong with that picture?

Why I Pray

I’m not an overly religious person.  I don’t read the Bible nor go to church.  I do believe in a Higher Power (whatever you may want to refer to it as).  I also am not afraid to admit that I pray.

I’ve heard arguments both for and against prayer.  Some will say that there is no sense in praying, as there is no Higher Power who will magically give you whatever it is you are praying for.  Some will say that the only answer to every problem is prayer.

Those reasons may be valid for some but for me, the reason why I pray is to feel better about myself, my situation, my mood, my life, to think of and wish good thoughts towards others, and to feel better when something doesn’t go quite right.  I don’t ask for anything specific.  I just kind of focus on the Higher Power, close my eyes and breathe.  Some may say that’s meditation.  In a way prayer is meditation, so I guess they would be right.  But you know what?  After those few minutes, or sometimes thirty minutes, depending on how long I want to pray, I feel like a mountain has been lifted from me.  I feel free.  My problem may still be there (and I’m sure it will be), but my soul feels better about it.  To me, there’s nothing wrong with that.

So why would I pray for the victims of Space Shuttle Columbia, victims of Sandy Hook or victims of flight MH17?  After all, I didn’t know those people.  Why would it matter to me how their families are coping?  Not that it could happen to me and my family.  No.  Never.

I would pray and have thoughts of these victims because it would make me feel better about their situation.  Nobody can change what happened but I feel that as a human being, thinking of your fellow human beings in the time of crisis is the right thing to do.  I know if something catastrophic happened to either myself of my family I would want others to think of and pray for us.  Why shouldn’t I do it for them?

A Date With Daddy

The latest in human misinterpretation really mystifies me.

A father videotapes a “date” he has with his three-year-old daughter.  He really plays it up, dressing in a suit and tie, acting all nervous as he goes to the door (which he had just come out of).

His little girl is more than happy to see him, showing off her shoes and giving him a big kiss and hug.  Then she literally drags him out to the back deck for a little picnic, complete with princess cups and carrot sticks.

Following dinner you see father and daughter walking in the park.  Daddy pushes daughter on the swing.  They walk along a balance beam.  He gives her a ride on his shoulders and you can just see the love in this father’s eyes for his daughter.  You can see the admiration in the little girl’s eyes for her father.

By the end of the viewing I was in tears.  Maybe it was the song that got me.  But it also made me think of three things:  the father I never had, the one who never loved me, never showed me any attention, never had a picnic with me or took me to the park; secondly, my husband and our daughter and the love and admiration they have for each other.  My daughter worships the ground my husband walks on.  Third, the fact that some people felt this video was “creepy” after seeing it.

Creepy?  Why?  Because they called it a “date”?  Because they dressed up?  Where is the “creepy” in a father showing his daughter attention, spending time with her, talking to her, playing with her?  More fathers should do that.

Would it have been any less “creepy” if they were both wearing jeans and T-shirts?  If they were sitting in the living room eating while watching TV?  What if it were a mother and her son?  A father and his son?  Or a mother and her daughter?  My daughter and I have picnics on the living room rug quite frequently and I don’t feel there is anything “creepy” about it.

I know this much about raising children:  they grow up faster than we know.   Too many girls (and boys) are living in homes where all they are learning is how to be violent and abusive or accept that as an everyday occurrence.  That isn’t right.

When she is grown up I want my daughter to know the right way a man should treat her and the right way she should treat a man.  I have a feeling the little girl in this video will also be able to do that because the main man in her life, her father, took the time to show her how.

Parenthood

Nine years ago I took on a job that will last the rest of my life.  I became a mother.  A parent.

Nine years ago my husband took on a job that will last the rest of his life.  He became a father.  Also a parent.

Before we became parents, we were just ordinary, imperfect people like everyone else.  Then once our daughter was born we became ordinary, imperfect parents.

I’ll be the first to tell you that my husband and I are not perfect as people or as parents.  In fact, we don’t know ANY perfect people or parents.  However, we have been perfect people and parents for our daughter and that’s all that matters.

In the nine years we’ve been parents we’ve made a lot of mistakes and I’m sure we’ll make many more.  Anyone who is a parent knows that kids do not come with instruction manuals.  You give birth, go home with your baby and you’re on your own.

Despite the fact we are not perfect people nor perfect parents, our daughter has survived the past nine years.  She has not only survived; she has strived.  She has gone from a six month old in Early Intervention for low muscle tone to a very active almost nine-year-old.  She is loved very much, she is very healthy, she is very intelligent and imaginative.  She makes us laugh every day and we love being her parents.  We really wouldn’t have it any other way.

Considering all I’ve just said I’m baffled by other parents (and non-parents) who feel it is their obligation to criticize both my husband and mine parenting skills.  Although everyone is entitled to their opinion, and we greatly respect that, we laugh at these opinions that others have about our parenting skills and move on.  You know why?  Because as the imperfect people and parents that we are, WE DON’T GIVE A FUCK what you think we’re doing wrong with our child.  We are not abusing her.  She is well fed.  She has all her needs taken care of.  She is very happy and as I said above, we love her very much.

If you don’t like what you think we feed our child or if you don’t like that our child may still sleep in our bed on occasion, WE DON’T GIVE A FUCK!  You don’t live here.  You don’t know what I feed my child and you don’t know where my child sleeps or how she sleeps.  You know what else?  It’s really NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS!  I don’t care how you are raising your child.  So why are you so interested in how I’m raising mine?

The other parents need to take a good hard look in the mirror.  Before they start judging another parent, they need to judge themselves as a parent.  Things may seem great now but you know what? Kids are people and just like any other human being THEY CHANGE!  So beware.  Just like yourselves as parents, your kids are not perfect either.

I could do the same as the parents who think it’s their privilege and responsibility to ridicule us as parents, but I won’t stoop to their level.  Trust me.  There is a lot more I could say about their parenting skills than they can say about mine.

Review: “Magnificent Vibration”

What do a middle-aged divorced loser named Bob Cotton, a nun trying to find herself named Alice Young and an oversized uneducated Latino named Lexington Vargas have in common?  One would think not very much but in Rick Springfield’s debut novel “Magnificent Vibration”, the three come together in a wild adventure that takes them from the highways of Los Angeles to the Highlands of Scotland.

When Bob Cotton steals a copy of the book “Magnificent Vibration” from a bookstore, he is faced with the utmost curiosity when he finds the phone number 1-800-CALL-GOD written in the book.  As any person questioning God’s existence while on the verge of suicide may do, Bob gives it a call and has a few words with The Man Upstairs.

Feeling despondent following his chat with God, Bob visits a bar where God once again contacts him while he’s in the men’s room.  Because of Bob’s disbelief, God not only gives Bob a white streak in his hair a’ la Charlton Heston, he also sets one of the sinks in the men’s room on fire.  Bob then manages to get the attention of Alice, an attractive woman in the bar who also has a copy of “Magnificent Vibration” sans the phone number.  Before Bob can decide whether he wants to bed Alice or not, Alice reveals that she is a nun who is trying to find herself.  Considering the two ironically both have a copy of the same book, and Bob has spoken to God, they decide to visit a coffee shop to discuss the situation.

Upon leaving the coffee shop, they encounter Lexington Vargas, a behemoth of a man with a somewhat simple educated mind but a strong knowledge of life on the streets.  He too owns a copy of “Magnificent Vibration” and his also has a phone number in it.  Also for God.

Following a crazy plane crash, they meet and quickly deject Merikh, whose name they discover means “Angel of Death”.  An unexpected e-mail to Alice from a law firm in Scotland leads the three to Inverness.  There they discover Alice has inherited a house as well as something that will change the course of mankind.

Springfield entertains his readers with this well-written, humorous tale of sexual exploitations and life’s ups and downs.  His portrayal of God (also known as the Omnipotent Supreme Being and Arthur) is comical as well as philosophical.  In the end we are left to wonder:  are we merely chess pieces in this game of life, responsible for what happens to us, or is there a Higher Power who is in charge?