Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings: 10/28/2011

This ticket was for admission to an art installation by Brian Eno which was part of MoogFest in Asheville, NC. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Eno, he “is an English musician, record producer, visual artist, and theorist best known for his pioneering work in ambient music and contributions to rock, pop and electronica. A self-described “non-musician”, Eno has helped introduce unique conceptual approaches and recording techniques to contemporary music. He has been described as one of popular music’s most influential and innovative figures.” (Source: Wikipedia)

The concept of the art installation is a combination of visual images and ambient music generated through software to create a continually morphing experience. “The title is derived from the possible number of combinations of video and music which can be generated by the software, effectively ensuring that the same image/soundscape is never played twice.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Anyway, MoogFest was a weekend-long electronic music festival, and this year I was doing the full festival (more on that soon). I decided to check out the art installation, to get myself in the proper mental-state-of-being for three days of mind-expanding music. And this definitely did that. I spent a fair amount of time basking in the sights and sounds that can only be described as consciousness-altering. After that, I was primed and ready to indulge myself into the rest of the festival.

This is one of those things that needs to be experienced. Words fail to adequately convey what it was like. As such, here is a link to a 7-minute sliver of Eno’s multimedia masterpiece on YouTube. Check it out. Headphones recommended.

Vatican: 4/19/2011

OK, so this is not a concert ticket stub, but it is a ticket stub and a pretty cool one in my opinion. Back in 2011, my wife and I took a trip to Italy, which was amazing. Often, you have expectations of places that you visit and they don’t quite live up to them, but Italy does not fall into that category. It surpassed all my expectations.

Rome was the last stop on our trip, and we definitely wanted to see the Vatican, particularly the Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s Basilica. Because it was Easter week when we were there, the crowds were larger than usual. Someone who was a veteran traveler to Italy suggested that we pay for a guided tour, which allows you to skip the lines. I have to say, it was money well spent. The line literally stretched for miles, and our tour guide took us up to the entrance whisked us right in.

Now, we all know what the Sistine Chapel looks like. We’ve seen plenty of pictures. But I have to say that when you are standing there, looking up at this massive work of art, it is an experience that is totally transcendent. A picture cannot do it justice. The sheer scale of this masterpiece boggles the mind. I could have spent a week there, gazing up at the ceiling and losing myself in the images, symbols, and colors. It was a moment in my life that I will treasure.

After the Sistine Chapel, we went to Saint Peter’s, which was packed. It was almost impossible to move inside there, but we slowly made out way around, taking time to marvel at Michelangelo’s Pieta. But what I found the most fascinating in St. Peter’s were the mummified popes. Yes, throughout the basilica, glass caskets displayed the mummified remains of various popes. I personally find the whole concept of religious relics to be intriguing, the belief that the physical remains of a spiritually powerful individual can convey mystical power to those in its presence. I must confess, there did seem to be some tangible energy in the atmosphere.

After the tour, we wandered the streets of Rome until it was time for dinner, and indeed, food in Italy is worth the trip. After dining there, you’ll never set foot in an Olive Garden again.

Ciao!

Fantastic Negrito: 10/16/2016

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I discovered Fantastic Negrito while listening to a Studio 360 podcast while driving. I was so blown away by his story and the power of his music, I immediately downloaded his album, The Last Days of Oakland. Every song was amazing and he catapulted to the top of my favorite-new-artist list. So when my friend Bill told me he was coming to Asheville to perform, I immediately went out and purchased tickets.

Fantastic Negrito (real name Xavier Dphrepaulezz) has an amazing story, one worth reading about. My friend Bill interviewed Negrito and published the story in the Mountain XPress (click here to read article). I encourage you to check it out.

Negrito played at the Asheville Music Hall, an intimate venue that allowed me to get close to the stage. I went with my friend Greg, and we met Bill and his wife Audrey there, so it was great hanging out with close friends.

Often times, when you have high expectations about a musical act, they can fail to meet those expectations. But that was not the case with Fantastic Negrito. His band was tight, energetic, and inspiring on so many levels. After the performance, all I wanted to do was create and express myself artistically.

In an effort to support him, I decided to purchase a vinyl copy of his album, even though I had the digital version through Apple Music. Xavier came out afterwards and mingled with the audience, graciously giving autographs and talking with fans. I got him to sign my album and let him know how inspiring he was. If you get an opportunity to see him, I strongly encourage you to do so.

To close, I want to mention that Fantastic Negrito was the overall winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. Click here to see that performance, and be inspired!

Brian Wilson: 8/18/2016

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The Beach Boys were responsible for the soundtrack to some of my more memorable summers growing up. We would have pool parties at this girl Wendy’s house and play spin the bottle and truth or dare while the Beach Boys constantly crooned through the stereo. And while I had seen the Beach Boys twice before this show, neither time had Brian Wilson, so this concert was a real treat and more than just a trip down memory lane.

This tour marked the 50th anniversary of the release of the album Pet Sounds, which is an amazing work of art. For the tour, Wilson also recruited two other Beach Boys: Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin. In addition, nine other musicians shared the stage, bringing the total to twelve that I was able to count. One of them, Al Jardine’s son, was an incredible vocalist and soared on all the high harmony parts.

I went with my wife and we had decent seats in the balcony to the left of the stage, so we could see quite well. The sound was balanced and clear, and the band was very tight. They started promptly around 8:00, no opening act, and played a nice set that included standard surf and car songs (California Girls, Surfer Girl, Shut Down, etc.). Then they took a break before coming back to play Pet Sounds in its entirety.

Before playing “God Only Knows” (one of my favorite Beach Boys’ songs), Brian told the audience that it was the best song he’d ever written. Almost brought a tear to my eye, because it was always a moving song, but knowing that the artist must have poured his soul into it makes it all the more special.

After Pet Sounds, the band played a nice long encore of about six songs, including “Good Vibrations,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “Fun Fun Fun,” and “Surfin’ USA.” By the time they took their final bow together, I was so moved and musically satisfied, I could not think of a single other song I would have wanted to hear.

I think that the most inspiring part of the concert was the fact that Brian Wilson, despite his personal issues, was able to get on stage and perform, and that his friends who joined him were totally supportive of him. You could sense it. Brian had his moments, where he sat at the piano and looked around, or obsessively checked his watch over and over and over, but no one minded and he was still able to pour out his emotion through the music. It affirmed what I have always known, that music has the power to heal and inspire.

I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I’ll make you so sure about it

God only knows what I’d be without you