by Diego Donamaria
February 2020 at One World Theater in Austin, Texas (Night Two)
by Gina Alligood
I attended Wednesday night’s concert looking forward to hearing live, the sounds of the Winston music I fell in love with in the early 80’s. I’m happy to say I was treated to that and a much broader range of Winston music than I was acquainted.
photo by Todd V Wolfson
Austin’s iconic One World Theater offered just the right intimate, earthy, and elegant atmosphere for a George Winston concert. In his no -frills manner he stepped onto the stage and announced to the audience that he had two setlists- Winter and Summer. Tonight we would be hearing “Summer” and with that out of the way, he sat down on the bench, still and straight-backed, and let his fingers do their magic.
photo by Todd V Wolfson
The first piece, “Dr. Professor Holly,” livened us up on a cold night with a blend of styles, New Orleans jazz and Buddy Holly. True to how the evening would transpire, he took off in a whole new direction with “Rain”, his signature, self-described ‘rural folk’ piano. Like a summer sprinkle, the notes cascaded across the audience , and I could feel the calm settle on the listeners around me.
Anyone familiar with George Winston knows his admiration for the compositions of Vince Guaraldi, so of course we were treated to his medley of Linus and Lucy tunes. Happy music punctuated by the quick, lively and light movement of Winston’s fingers across the keys. “Elephant and Mouse” showed off his love of the Stride piano style made famous by the 1930’s legendary stride pianist Fats Waller.
I was mesmerized by the bold, quick rhythm of his left hand providing the dependable beat while the fingers of his right danced with the definitive rhythm of Stride piano and its hints of ragtime. I enjoyed listening to the music as much as watching the movement of his hands, appearing to have a life of their own.
Throughout the evening it was clear that this is an artist who continues to have more to explore and more ways to push his instrument to its fullest. He reached into the piano with one hand to dampen the strings as he tickled keys with the other, intermittently emphasizing a note with a slide of the finger down off the edge of a key, and finally bowing reverently over the black and white as the sounds of his last note come to absolute quiet.
The evening continued with more Stride piano, New Orleans Jazz, rural piano, the classical sounds of epic Pachelbel’s Canon in “Variations on the Kanon by Pachelbel”, and Sam Cook’s civil rights protest song, “A Change is Gonna Come”. We got to hear the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm”, from his 2002 album “Night Divides the Day: The Music of the Doors”, and “Kai Forest 2”, a harmonica piece. Turns out he has a set of harmonica recordings you can listen to on his website.
And if that wasn’t enough to give everyone something they could enjoy, he took us in a whole new direction with a guitar piece. Always interesting, Winston plays a Hawaiian finger-style genre of music known as Slack-Key guitar. This reflects Hawaiian and universal themes of the past, feelings of the present, and aloha for loved ones; the ocean, bays, rivers, and waterfalls; the volcanoes, mountains, and valleys; the forests, plants, animals, and birds; the sea, the wind, and the land. What a perfect synergy to Winston’s nature-themed piano pieces. The dexterity and speed of the movement of his fingers was fabulous on the guitar; he added a low 7th string. I hope we hear more guitar from Winston.
The evening came to an end with a piano fan favorite from the early years, Vince Guaraldi’s “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”. With a formal bow he headed off stage then quickly returned for a wonderful Appalachian guitar piece and then said “goodnight” to a standing ovation. It was a fabulous evening of a diverse sampling of genres and instruments, more than I had hoped for. I’m excited to buy his 2019 CD release, “Restless Wind”, for a lovely evening of music at home in front of the fire.
See the full set list at Georgewinston.com.
Austin 360 Amphitheater, Austin, Texas
by Diego Donamaria
(Beck performs- by Diego Donamaria)
When you think about Beck, Cage the Elephant, and Spoon all performing under the same ticket, you know it’s going to be a big party. Basically, any of the 3 bands would be worth the ticket admission price. All 3 on the same stage, not to mention the awesome Wild Belle with their fun electro pop, is sure to be a hot ticket. Knowing that Spoon are Austin locals just makes it that more special.
(Spoon performs- by Diego Donamaria)
We caught up with Spoon earlier in the day at their CD release event at Waterloo Records and got to talk to the band about touring with Beck, Cage, and Wild Belle, their new greatest hits album Everything Hits At Once, and what they were most looking forward to during their performance in their hometown. It was easy to see how excited all the band members were about rocking the stage with such an awesome line up to a sold out crowd of veteran music fans. Austin-ites know music.
Britt Daniel and the rest of Spoon took the stage with their indie rock/pop experimental sounds and they did not disappoint. They sounded sharp and energetic while performing a list of fan favorite songs, including “The Way We Get By”, “The Underdog” and “Hot Thoughts”.
(Cage The Elephant performs)
The unmistakeable Matt Shultz came onstage in a wild outfit that he (in very traditional Cage The Elephant tradition) proceeded to shed during the performance. It started with a creepy red face mask, purple outfit and combat helmet and ended with him running around the stadium in his briefs.
Anytime you are present for a Cage show, you know that there will be boundless manic energy, great tunes, and somewhat odd behavior. Matt has said in the past that the goal of his performances is to get people on their feet singing and dancing. Undoubtedly they succeeded in their goal of getting all of us on our feet singing along and wondering what Matt would climb on next.
The band performed well-loved tunes like “Broken Boy”, “Mess Around”, and “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” in their traditional near-schizophrenic frenzied style. One of the coolest moments of their set was during their performance of the song “Trouble”. Matt started the song’s lyrics, and got quiet for a few seconds…“Trouble on my left, trouble on my right. I’ve been facing trouble almost all my life. My sweet love, won’t you pull me through? Everywhere I look I catch a glimpse of you. I said it was love and I did it for life. Did-did it for you”. By the end of the chorus we were all singing at the top of our lungs and you could feel the love amongst all of us. In very traditional Cage style, the show ended with Matt climbing on the roof of the sound booth and performing his last song from there. Assumingely, not as planned and rehearsed.
The stage was set for the award-winning singer, songwriter, producer, and all around creative genius Beck. Equally known for his edgy and profound lyrics, his experimental mash of folk, hip pop, electronic, alternative rock, and psychedelic music always creates a visual spectacle. This day was no different.
Beck came out in his signature business suit (classic and tasteful compared to the entertaining costumes of Cage) and he wasted no time getting the crowd singing along with his breakout hit “Loser” followed by all the crowd pleasers like “Devil’s Haircut”, “Que Onda Guero”, “The New Pollution” and others. “Dreams” and “Where It’s At”,were definite highlights of the night. The mind melding animated visuals and elaborate images added depth and entertainment to the songs. Although Beck’s set was subdued compared the craziness of Cage’s set, he proved why he’s the veteran in the lineup in the headliner position.
At the end of the show, Matt Schultz came back onstage to perform their joint song “Night Running” that inspired the name of the tour. One of the coolest collaborations we’ve seen recently. The show ended with a bang with massive confetti and balloons. At almost 50, Beck continues to defy aging and put on an amazing show. Only one question remains. How does Beck perform (seemingly fine) in a suit in the ridiculous and humid Texas heat?
The New Pollution
Qué onda güero
Up All Night
Where It’s At
Miss You (The Rolling Stones cover) (snippet)
Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads cover) (snippet)
San Antonio, Texas
by Jerri Starbuck(photos by Michael Amico)
Surprisingly, JLO has not had many tours considering she’s one of the top selling artists (selling over 80 million albums). It’s her first tour in 6 years and perfect timing for the San Antonio tour stop -and it was a special one. Not only is it JLo’s 50th birthday in July, but the city has a large latin presence and a huge fan base.
From the start, the vibe was a complete Vegas-style party with full DJ- and all glitz and glam. Openers World of Dance (Lopez stars and produces) dancers were absolutely phenomenal. The opening to Lopez was the DJ “Go Shorty, it’s your birthday” (50 Cent) to get everyone in the birthday party mood. Lopez descended in a tiered bling chandelier dressed in all crystal bling (and boots) singing “Medicine” with full amusement park carousel and then trombone section dancing along with her—- the choreography was flawless with dancers in precision dressed in all white.
(photos by Michael Amico)
One of the crowd’s favorite moments was her tribute to Texas native Selena. “Whenever I get to Texas I remember the beautiful time I spent here doing the movie Selena.” Lopez sang Selena’s “Yes Once/Si Una Vez” in Spanish to great applause (Lopez’s big break came when she portrayed the famous Tejana singer who’s life was cut short by tragedy). She wore a gorgeous red gown and was suspended and appeared to be floating. The video production on the screen was breathtaking with gorgeous, sensual shots of Lopez.
She topped off this portion of the set by singing briefly with daughter Emme during “Limitless” and yes her daughter can sing and she is beautiful and looks like her. It was a sweet special moment and one of the night’s highlights. One wonders if Emme is destined to follow in her mom’s footsteps.
(photos by Michael Amico)
The set list seamlessly tied epic hit songs like “Love Don’t Cost a Thing”, “Jenny From the Block”, “If You Had My Love”, “Waiting For Tonight”, and more with newer ones. At times the show is nonstop, hit after hit, with a few built-in breathers for her costume changes. The killer finale was one of the best you’ll see all year with “Waiting For Tonight”, “Dance Again”, and “On the Floor” complete with perfectly planned 80’s throwback neon spandex bodysuits and tights (think Jane Fonda and Madonna). She came out briefly for a one-song encore of “Dance Again” dressed as a Vegas showgirl with full feathers (a nod to her recent residency).
JLo has been a style queen forever and this show did not disappoint. There were all the big designers including Versace, Marchesa, Guess, Jebron, and others. She had a bling cane, bling mic and bling hat and water bottle. The fashion and style were a huge highlight for the show and an amazing feat by her stylist Rob Zangardi. We read there were 19 costume changes for Lopez plus 176 for the dancers and band. Bling is the theme of the night; she loves some sparkle. We read that the Swarovski crystal count tops one million including a dazzling piano and giant chandelier also blanketed in bling.
The entire production was off the charts including major pyro moments during her songs at the piano. Tons of pink smoke pyro too. There was a cool floating round stage that all the dancers and her had to time their choreography around and at other times it dropped below the stage. Other parts of the set were birthday-party focused with tons of balloons, huge life-size bday cake, and DJ party grooves – of course focused on her big 50th birthday coming July 24th.
(photos by Michael Amico)
Lopez is known for some of the best lyrics- one of our faves -“Don’t be fooled by the rock that I got , I’m still Jenny from the block!” -got a huge crowd reaction during the set. “We had to show the children how we use to play when we were kids”! We love that she included several covers of top artists today like Drake, Sara Bareilles, David Guetta, and more, and made them her own.
JLo engaged the audience from start to finish including shaking hands, reading signs, and talking to them often. A surprise of the night was when she brought a guy on stage on his birthday who got to sit in a chair center stage with dancing girls and yes, lap dances and then JLO surprising him from behind during hit song “If You Had My Love”, up close and personal. He had a huge grin the whole time and this will be a night he will remember the rest of his life.
Part show-stopping concert and part birthday party, Lopez also included important messages of inspiration to the crowd with words of wisdom of overcoming life’s obstacles and hard times and believing in yourself. She proved why she is the icon she is today and one of the top shows of the year.
Love Don’t Cost a Thing
I’m Into You
Waiting for Tonight
I’m Real / All I Have / Feelin’ So Good / Ain’t It Funny
Jenny From the Block
Baby I Love U!
Hold It Don’t Drop It
Starting Over / I’m Glad / Secretly
If You Had My Love
Until It Beats No More
Let’s Get Loud
On the Floor