The Saturday Night Concert Lights

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Of course I’m talking about our Saturday night enjoying the ZZ Top concert. But first I must throw out a mention to an amazing guitarist Tyler Bryant. I must confess, however, that I have never heard of him, I’m still kicking my self for having a deaf ear to him in the past. But, no longer, no way, now I see the error in my ways. In our particular show, this pasty white man waltzes out onto the stage, introduces himself over the noise of the crowd, so we could barely hear what he said. Without flash and fanfare he began to play, the crowd became calmed, and he amazed us all with the way he played the guitar and with no back up nothing, all solo, just the Tyler Bryant show, I was pretty impressed to say the least. So, if I were y’all, and you like great guitar music, check out Tyler Bryant, y’all won’t be one bit disappointed. Then we witnessed Jeff Beck, again not someone I was exactly up to speed with his music, definitely my loss for sure, an oversight that I can assure you is been corrected since Saturday night. For 70 years young, he deserves his world ranking in guitar playing, his hands show no sign of slowing down in my opinion. The show wasn’t that flashy, but it was good to set my head back and just let the music flow through me. Nevertheless, he is another skilled musician which opened my ears and eyes, fully had my attention.

Then there was our headliner, ZZ Top, who blew the roof off of the house, to put it very mildly. I was looking forward to this part of the show for two reasons, one because this was 4th time seeing ZZ Top live and the second reason was it was my son’s rock n’ roll live concert christening. He can no longer be teased by his older sisters as being the concert virgin. He has been a “fan” of ZZ Top for a few years, being guilty by association through me and the music I listen to, since I’m not always bang my head ’til I bleed metal as many like to think. I like what is referred to as classic rock as well, this so called classic rock is what I grew up on, it is my generation, it was our contribution to musical history. Too much? Too dramatic? My son has always heard music in his headphones or on the stereo speakers, never live and in his face. I really didn’t know what to expect taking him to this show. Soon after the show began initially I knew the birthday present was a grand slam. If I may, to set the mood, take y’all to the end of the show, after the lights came up, when my son turned to me and said “dad, I have a new found respect for ZZ Top, they made me feel like dancing”. I’m not an emotional man, I don’t wear my feelings on my sleeve in no way, but those words, those simple words, made my day, made me smile in the grandest of ways, I was extremely proud of my son, I think he now understands what I have always told him, one feels good music beyond just listening to it. He said he thought about that the whole concert, an excerpt from a conversation years ago, when I was asked why I listen to my music so loud. No, it’s not because I’m deaf boy, it’s because I want it to enter my soul through the vibrations, I want to feel the music, not just listen to it.

So, this was a good concert for him, in many ways. As well, my future son in law attended the concert with us and reacted in much the same way, even though he is now 21. But, in his defense, and this was not his first concert, he mentioned he always wanted to be able to see one of his all time favorite bands live, mission complete. He was all giddy like a 12 year old girl as well. But, as I explained to both of them, because I had a life before they knew me, that when the lights go down what they had in store for them. As I looked out over the sea of silver haired men and women, I mentioned that before long the party would start, beyond the concert, beyond the music, because these people came prepared to party. I just mentioned that as they smell things beyond the cigarette smoke and beer, that they will smell the skunk, but not to look for it, don’t point, and definitely don’t talk or saying anything about it. And, it didn’t take long, and it was purple haze time! Not for me personally, all I had was two 32oz bottles of water. And then, even though my son was aware of the fact that there are other sexual cultures beyond heterosexual, he had never witnessed anything up close and personal. At least both of them waited until we were in the car, yes in the mustang, to ask me if I saw the three lesbian couples sitting in front of us “making out”. Yes, I saw it. So what? That stifled the entire conversation, it was over before it started, its not my place to have an opinion about someone else’s relationship. One thing I will point out, however, is that the three couple were of different age groups, one was in their early twenties, the other I would guess thirtyish, and the other couple was in there fifties. My only opinion is that if it feels good for you then do it. Really too bad people get stuck in their judgmental bullshit all of the time. Plus, there was allot of making out everywhere around us, why do y’all think people bring the big blankets. Anyway, makes no matter to me, I came for the show, I came because I wanted to witness my son get his concert cherry popped. The only reason I brought up the female couples in this post is because I was asked about it later. Why do I need to care?

The only real stumbling point my son had with the concept of the live rock and roll concert, beyond the drinking, toking, and sex, was the fact that it is okay to sing along, it’s almost a requirement. As well, yelling, screaming, cheering, and clapping are our way of showing our unbridled appreciation for fantastic shows. Where I lost him was when ZZ Top was signing, then they go silent, music and all, waiting for the crowd to scream out the finish to the lyric. He knows the words, just didn’t know this was his time to scream them out louder than when he is in the shower. I will have y’all know, I went home hoarse, barely able to talk, my voice was toast, and I could feel it. For what its worth, I’m not shy when it comes to signing out load, yes I suck, but so does everyone else, but we all do it just the same. The night was fantastic all the way around, we all had fun, we all got to put a notch in our belt, for me, I’m my 25th belt or so, but who’s counting anyway. Sunday morning I laid in bed, my wife on one arm, and I found myself thinking how I was the one that each one of my kids saw their first live rock concert with. Many would say this isn’t good parenting, I disagree, I enjoy the company of family, I like being there for their “first times” in life. I’m an involved parent, guilty as charged. I’m lucky, my kids like music, and I’m lucky to live in a huge city where the opportunities to witness live music are everywhere. Most of the people I know don’t know what their kids are up too, nor do they care. No, I do not think I know what they do 24/7, but I have a pretty good idea I won’t see them on the news looting anytime soon. Sorry, my kids are important to me, I care to be in their lives, and for them to want to be in mine.

Sorry, got a little sidetracked, but then I never actually said I would be doing a song by song concert review, y’all should know better than that by now. I was deeply impressed by this little ‘ol band from Texas, I always am. I was disappointed in others attending the concert, a giant shame on you goes out to them, I could count the kids I saw on one hand. First concert I have ever been to that there wasn’t a cross section of three to four generations of the people. How do we share our music with the up and coming generations if we don’t take our kids to concerts? ZZ Top has been playing since 1969, you cant tell me that the only people that want to see them live are the 40-60 crowd. Maybe next time right, maybe the next band right, maybe the next concert right? This is exactly how bands just fade away, we all know it. Anyway, just wanted to mention that, to each his/her own, because it was an outstanding show, one I know my son and future son in law will not soon forget, and nor will I. My son told me this morning he gets it now, music wasn’t meant to be heard through earbuds, its meant to be heard live and loud. Funny how one’s first concert can make one appreciate the efforts of great musicians. I could go on and on about music, but that’s not why you came today. See, just because I’m not writing much lately doesn’t mean I’m dead, just means I’m out living life to the fullest. So, no, my blog isn’t up for grabs, not yet at least. Thanks for all the great emails, texts, and comments, I plan on getting caught up real soon with some fantastic stories, some are even true. Remember everyone, take the earbuds out once in a while and enjoy this concert we call life.

Finally, ZZ Top with Jeff Beck

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Finally, ZZ Top with Jeff Beck will be back here in Houston. Oddly enough, I had bought tickets for my son and I to attend the scheduled concert on 12 September 2014, but do to an injury the concert was delayed, indefinitely I was thinking. These tickets were bought for my sons 13th birthday in August 2014. The rest of us go to concerts on a pretty regular basis, normally leaving my son in the wind either because of his lack of interest or his age. But, he is allot like me, really likes the classic rock versus all the garbage one hears these days. Luckily for me we have that musical interest in common, luckily he is a giant ZZ Top fan as well. So, I surprised him for his 13th birthday when I got wind this little ‘ol band from Texas was coming home to the very town of there origins and roots, Houston. Well, as I mentioned, the original date was killed off, but the new day is literally just a few days away. So, this Saturday evening, on 02 May 2015, my son and I will be going to what is his very first live concert, which is ironic, ZZ Top was my very first concert as well back in the late 70s, I think I was like 11 or 12 at the time.

Is he excited? What do you think, of course he is excited. As well, I’m very excited, I will continue the tradition that started with my oldest daughter, who is turning 25 this year, I took her to her first concert when she was 7 in Sante Fe New Mexico. Then, of course last year, she and my 3 year old grand daughter joined the rest of us here in Houston to see Kiss and Def Leopard. My, now 18 year old daughter had her first taste of a concert with me when we went and saw Metallica in Vegas many years ago, and then Iron Maiden a few years ago. The only one of my children who really shares the full spectrum of hard rock, heavy metal, death metal, and classic rock is my oldest daughter, my other two just tolerate me and “my music”, that includes my dedicated to country music wife. I thought I lost my son to country music a few years ago, but I seemed to got him back on the right track now.

So, now it is my son’s turn will dear ‘ol dad to witness another rock & roll icon and legend, ZZ Top. He’s even found an old pair of dark black big framed sun glasses he plans wearing, in tribute to their classic look and one of his favorite songs. For me, this will my third time seeing ZZ top, but my first ever for Jeff Beck. Does that make me a bad person? You’re right, it does not! We will even be arriving to the concert at The Cynthia Woods Pavilion in definite style, my wife has offered to deliver us in her new Mustang. Well, y’all haven’t heard about that story yet, but I promise I will write a short post about it following this one, it’s a pretty funny story since it began as one thing and ended another way. Anyway, we’ll have front door drop off and pick up service, kinda like one sees when mom or dad is dropping off the teens for a concert. I promise to write a post about concert night, it will be his “first time”, so I’m sure there will be plenty to write about. Until then, hasta la vista mofos!

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Gene Simmons: ‘Rock Is Finally Dead’

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Photo By Getty Images

The KISS rocker expands on his thoughts about the past, present, and future of recorded music.

By Nick Simmons

SEPTEMBER 4, 2014

Originally found @ Esquire.com

(Find my, Scorpion Sting, opinions at the bottom, following the conclusion of the Gene Simmons interview. The interview and picture were borrowed from Esquire without prior permission. Everything, with the exception of my thoughts and my opinions, are not my words and I stake no claim to the information.)

I spoke with my father about his legacy, the legacy of his contemporaries, and the state of the music industry today. Invariably, it seemed, we began to talk about file-sharing.

But this is not that old story of an out-of-touch one-percenter crying victim. As so many pointed out during the now-infamous Napster public relations war, the rich/famous/established musicians are not the victims of the digital revolution. My father instead laments the loss of opportunity for my generation, those who have begun to sense that it may no longer simply be a matter of dusting our hands, learning a skill, and putting in the time. There is a system that is broken for those of us who love songwriting, instruments, and all the soul of the analog, and it is now working against us — unless we conform. Unless we decide to stick, safely, to pop, and let gray men in a boardroom write our songs for us, dress us, and sell us from somewhere in the shadows.

The death of rock music came, as we all feared, not as a bright, burning explosion, but as a candle that slowly faded away—and in my father’s view, we are all at fault, for slowly leeching its fire without giving back any of our own.

NICK SIMMONS: You once said the music business isn’t dying — it’s dead. What would you say to young musicians and songwriters today trying to navigate this new terrain?

GENE SIMMONS: Don’t quit your day job is a good piece of advice. When I was coming up, it was not an insurmountable mountain. Once you had a record company on your side, they would fund you, and that also meant when you toured they would give you tour support. There was an entire industry to help the next Beatles, Stones, Prince, Hendrix, to prop them up and support them every step of the way. There are still record companies, and it does apply to pop, rap, and country to an extent. But for performers who are also songwriters — the creators — for rock music, for soul, for the blues — it’s finally dead.

Rock is finally dead.

“Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered.”

I am so sad that the next 15-year-old kid in a garage someplace in Saint Paul, that plugs into his Marshall and wants to turn it up to ten, will not have anywhere near the same opportunity that I did. He will most likely, no matter what he does, fail miserably. There is no industry for that anymore. And who is the culprit? There’s always the changing tide of interests — music taste changes with each generation. To blame that is silly. That was always the exciting part, after all: “What’s next?” But there’s something else. The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid’s 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he’s jamming with. The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity — they killed the artists they would have loved. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed, and now it won’t, because it’s that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.

The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there’s a copy left behind for you — it’s not that copy that’s the problem, it’s the other one that someonereceived but didn’t pay for. The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it.

It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance. If you play guitar, it’s almost impossible. You’re better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for The X Factor. And I’m not slamming The X Factor, or pop singers. But where’s the next Bob Dylan? Where’s the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators? Many of them now have to work behind the scenes, to prop up pop acts and write their stuff for them.

Here’s a frightening thought: from 1958 to 1983, name 100 musical anythings that are iconic, that seem to last beyond their time.

NS: The Beatles, The Stones…

“From ’84 until today, name some. Just give me a few — artists that, even after their passing, are or will be inescapable.”

GS: Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, the Stones, Jimi Hendrix, the numerous classic Motown artists, Madonna, U2, Prince, Pink Floyd… The list goes on. Individuals, all unanimously considered classic, timeless, revolutionary. Now from ’84 until today, name some. Just give me a few — artists that, even after their passing, are or will be inescapable. Artists on the same level as the ones I just mentioned. Even if you don’t like them, they will be impossible to avoid, or deny, even after they’ve stopped making music and maybe passed on. In fact, they become bigger when they stop. Name artists that even compare with the ones I just named.

NS: Nirvana?

GS: Nirvana. That’s about it. They are thenotable exception. Keep thinking. It’s harder, isn’t it, to name artists with as much confidence? The pickings are so slim, and it’s not an arbitrary difference. There was a 10- to 15-year period in the ’60s and ’70s that gave birth to almost every artist we now call “iconic,” or “classic.” If you know anything about what makes longevity, about what makes something an everlasting icon, it’s hard to find after that. The craft is gone, and that is what technology, in part, has brought us. What is the next Dark Side of the Moon? Now that the record industry barely exists, they wouldn’t have a chance to make something like that. There is a reason that, along with the usual top-40 juggernauts, some of the biggest touring bands are half old people, like me.

NS: What does this bode for the industry of the future?

GS: There is no record industry, unfortunately. Not like there was. There are some terrific bands out there — Tame Impala, which you turned me on to, and so on. And during the ’60s and ’70s they would’ve become big, I’m convinced.

But, strangely, today, everything pales before Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” Look up the numbers on that song. He blows everyone else out of the water.

NS: The biggest song of all time is an Internet meme. Sounds almost like popular music is jumping the shark.

GS: Yes. My guess is that despite those numbers, it will still pass from the public eye in a short time. I don’t know what that means, but it’s clear that longevity is practically dead, and new artists that stand the test of time — meaning, artists whose art can survive them, who become icons — are so rare as to almost be nonexistent.

NS: Considering that it doesn’t seem to affect you directly, how did you become so outspoken about this? Along with a few public figures I could name, you’ve been one of the most vocal critics of file-sharing.

GS: My perspective is decidedly different than perhaps the perspective of somebody who was born here. If you’re a native-born American, my contention is that you take a lot of things for granted. All the freedoms and opportunities you have here are expected, and you feel entitled. I think this has taken over the American psyche. I find that many of the more patriotic people are immigrants, and they’re the ones who stand still when the flag goes up, out of gratitude. My sense is that file-sharing started in predominantly white, middle- and upper-middle-class young people who were native-born, who felt they were entitled to have something for free, because that’s what they were used to. If you believe in capitalism — and I’m a firm believer in free-market capitalism — then that other model is chaos. It destroys the structure. You’ll never understand unless you’re the one that wrote the song, and you were the one that had the band, whose music people took without paying you for. Once you’re the one who’s been robbed, there’s a moment of clarity.

And let’s be clear: I’m not the guy to be pouting and complaining about stuff. I make a decent living. I’m very, very lucky. But that’s because we started before the chaos, in the days when people had to buy records. If you didn’t like a band, you didn’t buy their albums, and the people decided.

NS: They voted with their dollar.

“Patriotism is corny, and that’s a sad state of affairs.”

GS: That’s right. And going back to that national psyche thing… I firmly believe that there’s something missing in America, and it used to exist, and it’s now corny. Patriotism is corny, and that’s a sad state of affairs. It really is. I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on — I find faults in both, some social and some political issues — but everywhere, people are taking a lot of things for granted. And you would know the majesty that is America if you came from hundreds of other countries I could name. If you come from a place where every day above ground is a life-threatening event, and you had the same ambition and values as the most successful people here, you would never reach the same heights. And of course this applies to Western society at large, but America especially. I think every day, we forget about the — and here’s the corny part — glory of America. And that’s too fucking bad.

NS: Any last thoughts?

GS: Always, but I think I’ve talked enough for a lifetime.

*********** End of Interview *********

Thoughts from Scorpion Sting:

I feel the need to express my thoughts and opinions on this particular interview, not necessarily on the words, but the contents, ideas, and opinions. Why? I too, have been watching Rock & Roll for many, many years. As a consumer, I have seen many trends in the music industry, I have seen great bands not just fade away over time, but vanish overnight as well. Sadly, nobody really knows why this happens all the time and why some bands seem to remain relevant through the good times and the bad across multiple generations. I’m reminded of this because of what I witnessed and was a part of this past Sunday evening while attending the final show in the KISS and Def Leppard tour. Including my crew of 3 generations, we saw many fans there sharing or introducing their love for two rock legends with their children and grandchildren. It truly was amazing to witness the next generations having such a great time at such a fantastic show.

When I see rock legends do interviews such as this particular one, it shows people that music truly is a business that is propelled for the simplicity of supply and demand. I know I’m not the only one who grew up with rock and roll and continue to enjoy it to this very day, the concert we just saw as a family proves that fact hands down in my opinion. Of course, I’m witnessing the fading of many of my favorite bands, simply because they are getting to an age where they must slow down, yes I’m saying they are getting to old to perform these days. Many of the legends don’t give up, many of them still put out awesome music, some of them are still doing it after 40 or more years, and that is impressive to me.

So, where am I going with this little monolog? I guess I just wanted to agree a bit with what Gene Simmons noted, the music industry has evolved to a point where music isn’t important any longer, the business of making money is what is important and with that, myself and everyone else, suffer. In the digital age we live in now it almost seems that live concerts have become irrelevant because now we can Google a show we missed or watch it for free from the comfort of our homes on YouTube. As a whole, people have become to busy and to lazy to get out and enjoy a show of any sorts, and that gets reflected directly when bands decide where to tour. Do I see this downward spiral continuing? Absolutely, because the music offered right now, today, by the so called “fresh” artists really does suck ass. Personally, its not what I’m looking for in music. So what am I forced to do? The same as millions of other deciples of old school rock and rock played with actual instruments, I have turned to the digital world so I can hear what I want, when I want, and repeat it as many times as I want.

Anyway, just wanted to share a little food for thought to get y’all thinking about the music y’all love and share the opinions of an all time rock legend, Gene Simmons. I hope y’all enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed putting it together for y’all.

Wondering How To Describe The Show

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Before I begin, I would like to personally thank KISS, Def Leppard, and opening act The Dead Daisies, for coming to our fair city and putting on a spectator kick ass show. If anyone has been to one of the concerts this 2014 tour, they understand what I am talking about fully. I would just like to take a moment and mention an observation. If I had to pick which band was “best” last night it would hands down be Def Leppard. (Gasp!) Def Leppard brought the sound, the music, the vocals, and the overall show when they performed. Personally, they rocked the fucking sold out pavilion like no bands I have seen perform there in the past, and I have seen many there.

But, as any diehard KISS fan will tell you, good show, bad show, so so average show, who the fuck cares because you just saw KISS perform live. So, personal sentiment aside, I saw KISS live for the 5th damn time in my life. As a bonus, there were three (3) generations of my family there to witness musical history being made. It was an absolute blast with my granddaughter up on one of my shoulders while she tried to dance and when I would put her down the music just took over and captivated her while she twirled and danced around.

In the end it was a great night for me and my wife, who is a diehard country music fan, and everyone just had a blast. I can’t ever ask for more than family time, they made it all worth it for me, and we will always have these spectacular memories that we all made together. By the time it was over, with my granddaughter draped in my arms, we all realized we we all exhausted, and I still had a 45 minute drive back to the house. Next concert for all if us will be ZZ Top, whenever they announce the dates to resume their tour.

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The Time is Here To Rock & Roll All Night

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The day is finally here, later in this day my wife and I will be heading off to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, Texas. Why, you ask? We will be going to see KISS and Def Leppard while we rock and roll til the end of the night. Am I excited? Indeed! This will be my 5th time to see KISS live and 3rd time seeing Def Leppard live, but never together before. For the very first time it will be myself, my wife, my two daughters, my son, and my 3 y/o granddaughter. Never before have we ALL went to the same concert at the same time, for this I am very excited because my son, my wife, and my granddaughter are live KISS concert virgins. That’s all I really have to say for now, other than it will be raining still, probably, and its an outdoor venue. But! The show must go on! Don’t worry, I will tell y’all all about it in the next day or three.

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Sunday………..Sunday………..Sunday

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Is my wife a sneaky little fox? Yes, yes she is a sneaky little fox. Let me explain. As a follower of the band KISS I try to keep up with and when they ate touring over the years. In my 45 years I have already seen the band live in concert four times, once while in high school, once before children, and once a piece with each of my daughters. When I go see them Sunday, 31 August 2014, it will be my fifth time and I will have both of my daughters, my son, my wife, and my 3 y/o granddaughter. It will be my wife, my son, and my granddaughter’s very first time to experience KISS live in concert.

Now, let me explain how my wife was so damn sneaky. I heard about the concert announcement probably 2 weeks after it actually occurred, but my wife caught wind of it well before that. Now, I was focused on the cruise we were taking over the last week of August returning the first week of September to celebrate my middle daughter’s 18th birthday and as her graduation present from us. So when I heard the concert date I was more tthan just a little disappointed to say the very least. Little did I know that when you book a cruise so far out in advance that there is some flexibility for change. But, my wife knew and without me knowing she bumped our cruise date out a bit. She also secured six tickets to the concert behind my back. I found out about both when I opened my Father’s Day card from all of them while they all watched me with a shit eating grin on their faces. So, yea, now we all will be enjoying KISS & Def Leppard in concert and all enjoying the cruise together a few weeks later.

She got me, hell, they all got me pretty good. My wife has a few surprises left in her I see, I will have to start keeping a closer eye on her now. Am I happy? Of course, hell yea I’m happy, I will be even happier the end of August. Anyway, I’m sure I will do a little post after the concert and of course after we get back from the cruise, just be patient, the end of August isn’t that far away.

Posted From Scorpion Sting’s Motorola Droid Maxx!