May 26, 2017

Mick Archer’s Piano Bar column featuring Elizabeth Doyle in Chicago Jazz Magazine

Mick Archer has written a lovely article about my encounter with late and great jazz pianist, Marian McPartland and included some of my recollections about playing in piano bars.

http://www.chicagojazz.com/piano-bar-elizabeth-doyle

Elton John show in Las Vegas

There are any number of great shows on the Las Vegas Strip, but Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano is my vote for “not-to-be-missed” musical extravaganza. You have to like rock and roll, but familiarity with John’s song catalogue is not a prerequisite for enjoying this spectacle. He has a kick-ass back-up band with two of the members having played with him starting in 1969. There is definitely some age on this stage, but you wouldn’t know it from their energy and cool-factor demeanor.

Elton wows the audience with his brilliant playing and his powerful vocals (albeit amplified with lots of reverb), but he also talks with the audience about his friendship with John Lennon and his love of performing. When he speaks, you forget you are in a Colosseum with 4,297 other listeners.

A word about the stupendous electric grand piano Elton plays throughout the show, specially made by Yamaha, the instrument features over 68 LED video screens. The 120-foot-wide and 40-foot tall LED screen across the back of the stage adds to the visuals. Videos include shifting design images, a collage of Elton wearing unique clothing throughout his career and a touching white gardenia film tribute to John Lennon.

The audience is singing along during the show, jumping to their feet after numbers, and clapping along with the three percussionists in John’s band. A select few in the front rows are invited to the stage towards the end of the show for the opportunity of shaking the star’s hand.

If my ears did not deceive me, I believe Elton John said his two children, Zachary (age 6) and Elijah (age 3) were seeing their father perform in Million Dollar Piano for the first time that evening in Las Vegas. I bet they were mightily impressed. I certainly was!

setlist.fm – the setlist wiki

By hazard, I found the most interesting web site for fans of live music. Setlist.fm brags that they feature over 2 1/2 million set lists, almost 136,000 artists and over 200,000 venues.
While the emphasis is more on compiling concert set lists of contemporary pop musicians, a quick perusal of the site finds artists of many different genres: country, classical, folk, heavy metal, surf punk, rock and many more.
Want to know what Billy Joel played at Wrigley Field in August 2016? A brief search gives you his play list as well as his encores. What did the classical pianist Lang Lang play at the United Nations in October 2014? Two songs by Sting. Long dead artists are also represented.  As an example, there are several pages of Frank Sinatra concert playlists from 1939 to his last concert in Palm Springs on February 1995.
Not only is this site fantastic for music aficionados but it is a wonderful resource for musicians who do tribute shows.
Check out your favorite entertainers on setlist.fm and you can almost imagine attending their shows.
It appears that concert information can be submitted by audience members, much like the wikipedia model. Why not jot down the set list at your next live concert. You too can be a participant in setlist.fm.  Is this not a cool site?

Leonard Cohen at Chicago Theater: May 2009

<img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-4400" src="http://www.elizabethdoylemusic viagra schweiz.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/leonard-cohen-e1474508147892-300×168.jpg” alt=”leonard-cohen-e1474508147892″ width=”300″ height=”168″ srcset=”http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/leonard-cohen-e1474508147892-300×168.jpg 300w, http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/leonard-cohen-e1474508147892-768×431.jpg 768w, http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/leonard-cohen-e1474508147892-148×83.jpg 148w, http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/leonard-cohen-e1474508147892-31×17.jpg 31w, http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/leonard-cohen-e1474508147892-38×21.jpg 38w, http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/leonard-cohen-e1474508147892-383×215.jpg 383w, http://www.elizabethdoylemusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/leonard-cohen-e1474508147892.jpg 873w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px” />In 2009, Leonard Cohen was touring with singer/co-songwriter Sharon Robinson and the Webb sisters with a kick-ass multi-cultural band consisting of bass, Hammond B3 Accordion, 12-string, electric, pedal and steel guitars, bandurria, laud, percussion, sax, dobro, clarinet and keyboards. The band was tight and on fire.

At the Chicago Theater, I sat with fellow Cohen devotee, Dan Stetzel and we marveled at the arrangements, the musicians and back-up vocals, but most notably the electric performance from the then septuagenarian Leonard Cohen.

The concert was over 3 hours with Cohen’s energy never showing any signs of flagging. In fact, he seemed to be physically possessed by his material as he danced and gesticulated with wild abandon.

From the song Dance Me To the End of Love as the opener, through his numerous compositions, to Whither Thou Goest as the closer, this was one of the most thrilling concerts I have ever experienced. And this from a man with a voice characterized by sandpaper, whiskey and bad Tuvan throat-singing. His lyrics were at times dark, but the spirit he exuded was transcendantly positive and warmly inclusive. The prolonged ovation at the end of the show was an outpouring of love between performer and audience.

Cohen and Bob Dylan have been our poet-troubadours throughout the turbulent 60’s to the present day. Both have continued writing and touring as they climbed the decades.

Besides his large catalogue of songs, Cohen published books of poetry and two novels, The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers. We are indeed a little poorer today without the prospect of more wise and wonderful words from Canadian Leonard Cohen.

An interesting web site with much Cohen info:
http://cohencentric.com/2

Chicago Beach bar/restaurants from Oak Street to Hollywood on Lake Michigan

This is the perfect time to check out some of the park beach houses and food/bar spots.

Oak Street Beach Food + Drink Talk about a great view of the lake, the Drake Hotel and Lake Shore Drive. You must be at the Oak Street Beach sipping a frozen margarita and munching on a chicken mole taco or a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich.

http://www.oakstreetbeach.com/

Castaways at 1603 N. Lake Shore Drive features DJs and live bands to go along with your cold brewskies, your jerk fish tacos or Castaways signature burger.
Then again, you could go fancy and order the Riva Shrimp Chopped salad or the blackened grouper sandwich.

http://www.castawayschicago.com/

Bacino’s at 248 W. Diversey, west of the Diversey Driving Range, an Italian Grill open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring Bruschetta, salads, panini, pizzas, burgers and gelato.

http://www.bacinos.com/DIVERSEY/contact.html

The Dock at Montrose Beach, at 200 W. Montrose Harbor Drive, with a liquor license, full-fledged restaurant and live music.

http://thedockatmontrosebeach.com/

Nacho Mama’s Burrito Bar at 5701 N. Lake Shore Drive, Osterman Beach House. One of the newer lakefront venues with non-alcoholic beverages like hibiscus tea, ginger beer, coconut water and, you guessed it, nachos.

http://www.nachomamasbeachbar.com/new-page/

I know there are beach bar/food businesses north and south of the ones mentioned above. Please let me know if you have any favorite spots along Lake Michigan in the city.

Scarab Club/Vocal Canvas photos March 20, 2016

Photos from our recent Vocal Canvas concert at the Scarab Club in Detroit, Michigan on Sunday, March 20, 2016.

Scarab Club artists, husband and wife, Mariuca Rofick & Carl Wilson (Wilson did not attend)

Elizabeth and Claudia singing the closing number

Post-concert reception at the Scarab Club

Kelly, Lepauw, Deleury

Scarab Club rehearsal

Elizabeth singing "Black Coffee Today"

Elizabeth Doyle, Claudia Hommel, George Lepauw, Nadine Deleury, Velda Kelly

Detroit Institute of Arts and the Scarab Club

The Detroit Institute of Arts risked having its marvelous art assets sold off to pay the city’s debts in 2014. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and the DIA kept its collections intact thanks to nearly a billion dollars in rescue money from private donors and the state of Michigan.

The jewel of the museum is Rivera Court covered with murals by Mexican artist, Diego Rivera.  Other notable collections are The General Motors Center For African American Art, The James Pearson Duffy Department of Contemporary Art and notable paintings by American and European artists.

Current special exhibits include, Dance! American Art 1830-1960, ending on June 12, 2016 and a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio on view until April 3, 2016. The treasured tome is open to the play Hamlet and contains the famous “To be or not to be” passage.

The cafeteria, CafeDIA, is quite good, but the most stunning spot for refreshment is Kresge Court, a glass-ceilinged courtyard that contains various seating arrangements that include sofas, chairs, tables and bar stools. Light bites, alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages and Starbucks coffee drinks are available. I had a baby kale and root vegetable salad that was delicious.

Admission is $12.50, but free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. The DIA is located on the Wayne State campus along with other notable Detroit museums.

http://www.dia.org

In back of the DIA is the Scarab Club, Detroit’s over-a-hundred-year-old Arts & Crafts style cultural club that features art exhibits, chamber music concerts, lectures, sketching sessions with live models plus dance and yoga classes. Chamber concerts feature dynamite musicians and a Pleyel grand piano from 1870.

The property also includes a third floor with six working art studios and a small outdoor garden. If you like Arts & Crafts architectural details, the Scarab Club deserves a visit. Don’t miss the autographed and artistically embellished ceiling beams on the second floor. Signatures include Diego Rivera, Norman Rockwell and Marcel Duchamp, among many others.

http://scarabclub.org/

Once: The Musical returns to Chicago

Many fans of musical theater have admitted that they missed the musical Once when it was on Broadway or when it first played Chicago in 2013. Here is an alert on a brief run at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theater June 2 through June 7, 2015. Don’t miss it!

The musical is based on a popular 2006 movie which featured an Oscar-winning song entitled “Falling Slowly.” The songwriters of the hit movie score teamed up to flesh out the music for a Tony-award winning Broadway run. The touring production in 2013 was stunning with excellent choreography, cast members that sing and play instruments and a love story that successfully transferred from film to stage.

In the previous Chicago production, one entered the theater to see an Irish bar on stage with audience members queuing up to buy actual beer. Cast members were mingling with on-stage bar patrons while they started playing acoustically. Less adventuresome theater-attendees, myself included, were delighted by the bar tableau from their theater seats. Almost without notice, the music started to be amplified, the bar patrons were invited to find their seats and the show had officially started. I was delighted by this pre-show idea and the production continued at this same entertaining level from start to finish.

The movie soundtrack was charming and low-key, but this Broadway musical incarnation with its Irish overtones had rousing dance and instrumental sequences that were breath-taking. I am unfamiliar with this new touring cast, but you may want to take a chance that the show is still creating magic.

The Once web site is offering discounts for weekdays.
http://once-musical-chicago.ticketsw.com/

Goldstar has a limited number of discounted seats as well:
http://www.goldstar.com/events/chicago-il/once

Cedille Records Celebrates 25 Years as Chicago’s classical record company

Cedille Records, Chicago’s own classical recording label is marking its 25th Anniversary this year. Started by Jim Ginsburg back in 1989, the label has made it their mission to record Chicago artists and composers along with international material that needs a wider listening audience.

Some of the notable artists on the roster are violinist Rachel Barton Pine, soprano Patrice Michaels, violinist Jennifer Koh, flautist Mathieu Dufour and pianist Ursula Oppens. Groups include the chamber ensemble eighth blackbird, Gaudete Brass, Fifth House Ensemble, both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Grant Park Orchestra as well as illustrious conductors such as Carlos Kalmar, Paul Freeman, Stephen Alltop, Anne Heider and Christopher Bell. They also highlight the work of Chicago composers including Easley Blackwood, Stacy Garrop, Leo Sowerby, Lita Grier, John La Montaine and William Ferris.

Cedille regularly sponsors live concerts and features a large catalogue of recordings for purchase. You might consider getting on their mailing list which entitles you to a free download of the week and 25% off a CD of the week. Cedille is a  Chicago non-profit treasure which deserves our support as it enters its next quarter century of providing superlative Chicago-connected music.

Cedille Records/Cedille Chicago
1205 W. Balmoral, Chicago, IL 60640
info@cedillereords.org
(773) 989-2515

Burlington, Iowa: charming Mississippi River town

A performing engagement took me to this Iowa town with church spires and graceful architecture nestled on the hills overlooking the Mississippi River. Some of the most impressive homes are situated on the bluffs over-looking downtown and the river valley.

The Bart Howard Foundation was the entity that hired me to perform a program which included the song “Fly Me To the Moon” and other songs connected to the Burlington native-son Howard. Fans of cabaret may want to make a stop to see the Bart Howard Room in the Des Moines County Historical Society. Photos and memorabilia of Bart and friends dot this jewel-box room. A grand piano and cafe tables are put to good use when the occasional performer is brought in to present a cabaret class or program.

Martini’s fine dining restaurant provided excellent steaks and seafood with a million dollar view of the sunset washing over downtown Burlington and the river.  Big Muddy’s was literally river-side with excellent casual food such as burgers, a nice salad bar and a dinner buffet. For entertainment, The Washington nightclub downtown books a wide variety of music including jazz and blues in a cozy setting with bar and table seating.

I was pleasantly surprised at my lovely hotel room in the Catfish Bend Casino and Pzazz Hotel. The venue name conjured up images of rustic digs that were a far cry from the plush bed, spa bathroom, fleecy bathrobe and flat screen TV that I encountered. A daily generous breakfast buffet was included in the room rate. Staff members were friendly and helpful. I would visit this hotel again in a snap.

Hosts Bob McCannon and Sandy Miller from the Foundation made sure that I got the cook’s tour of the area with visits to the West Jefferson Street Historic District, a glimpse of the vertiginous Snake Alley and a stop to see wonderful water color paintings in the Arts For Living Center. We even made it to Mosquito Park to view a panoramic vista of the town and river. As opposed to my Iowa expectations, I saw not one corn field.

Des Moines County Historical Museum and Bart Howard Room
http://www.dmchs.org/

Martini’s Grille
http://www.martinisgrille.com

The Washington Nightclub
http://www.thewashingtonmusic.com/home-page#!__home-page

Pzazz Inn and Spa
http://www.catfishbendcasino.com