Robert Gerard Hunt Stories. Commentary. Endorphins.

8Jun/12Off

Barry’s Branson Bradypalooza

The Real Greg Brady sings with his doppelganger, actor Cory Hansen.

The burden of the eldest child is the yoke of responsibility, and though Barry Williams actually grew up as the youngest of three brothers, he is most famous for his role as Greg Brady, the big brother of the Brady Bunch. As such, he knows a thing or two about the onus of the oldest. "I'm the one who's carrying the torch," he observes in the lobby of Yakov's Theatre in Branson, Missouri, where he has begun a five-year run of a new show called Lunch with the Brady Bunch. Embracing and nurturing his Brady legacy is something that Barry has been doing since penning his bestselling autobiography twenty years ago. Now the man behind Johnny Bravo has moved to the Ozarks and is establishing himself as a permanent member of Branson's entertainment community.

Originally conceived as an adaptation of the cabaret show that Barry has performed around the country for years, Lunch with the Brady Bunch evolved into a program tailored for Branson audiences thanks to a successful trial run that incorporated spectator feedback with advice from theater owner Yakov Smirnoff. The result should please not only Brady fans but anyone with a fondness for the sights and sounds of the seventies and an appreciation of musical theater.

19Aug/11Off

Night Of The Hunter

Welcome Back To My Nightmare: Alice Cooper introduces Steve Hunter in Columbus.

It's a great time to be an Alice Cooper fan. Just last November, Alice wrapped up a 16-month world tour dubbed Theatre of Death, an over-the-top theatrical extravaganza propelled by his best band in years. In April, the original Alice Cooper Group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with a bombastic celebratory box set arriving in the summer. Next month will see the release of Welcome 2 My Nightmare, a conceptual sequel that reunites Alice with legendary producer Bob Ezrin and includes contributions from the ACG as well as veteran solo career collaborators. It would surely be permissible for the rock icon to take the summer off and relax.

But no. Not only has he been canvassing Europe and both North and South America since May, he is doing so under the banner of a new tour called No More Mr. Nice Guy. As the concert filler between Theatre of Death and the forthcoming Welcome 2 My Nightmare tour, it could easily have been a minimally produced affair in which Cooper & Co. make a few bucks off an assortment of greatest hits, and few would have complained. But Alice is firing on all cylinders right now, and his current show is no mere stopgap, as Wednesday's date at the LC Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio proved.

5Aug/11Off

I Saw Him Standing There

Faster than a stolen base, more powerful than a grand slam, it's...

If there are supermen among us, one of them showed his strengths last night in the ordinary metropolis of Cincinnati. Paul McCartney, age 69, demonstrated extraordinary endurance while plowing through a setlist that mere mortals would sell their souls to have written. While there is no question that the old Beatle is a living legend, Sir Paul surely put to rest any speculation that his talents have waned. He is as captivating as ever, delivering nearly three hours of flawlessly performed classics with as little apparent effort as that which you and I expend sitting on our talentless bums.

So influential is McCartney's catalog that selections from it successfully comprised the entirety of the pre-show music. As concertgoers wandered the breezy concourse of Great American Ball Park and swarmed numerous swag stands, they were treated to a diverse array of cover tunes, from a Hammond organ instrumental of Eight Days A Week to a reggae version of Blackbird. For half an hour before the show began, a scrolling video collage of McCartney memorabilia was accompanied by an infectious remix mashup featuring Coming Up, Twist and Shout, Goodnight Tonight, With A Little Luck, Temporary Secretary, We Can Work It Out, Back in the USSR, and inevitably, The End. Then, with audience anticipation at its zenith and the video screens displaying a sparkling silhouette of the iconic Hofner violin bass, McCartney and his band opened with Hello Goodbye followed by Junior's Farm.

13Aug/10Off

I Was A Private In The KISS Army

KISS Tattoo Man

Today's Brain Buster:  Which of these people might have trouble finding lifeguard work?

One October in the mid-Nineties, my wife and I were invited to a Halloween party.  It struck me as a funny idea for the two of us to wear carefully applied KISS makeup but to otherwise make no changes to our everyday wardrobe.  We set out across town along I-70, Julie sporting the Starchild design of Paul Stanley and me bearing the Demon likeness of Gene Simmons.  We enjoyed the varied reactions of passing motorists, but upon arriving at the party, we were dismayed to discover that we were the only guests in costume.  Rather than appearing ironically witty, we instead looked just plain stupid.  When it comes to successfully pulling off such a stunt, there is safety in numbers.

I was reminded of the incident after traveling a few hours in the other direction on I-70 to catch KISS at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis on Monday.  A friend and I arrived with plenty of time to enjoy the fair before the show, and during the interval we observed increasing numbers of KISS fans arriving in tour shirts, many of them wearing makeup and some outfitted in full stage gear.  Though the more elaborately costumed provoked sidelong glances from average fairgoers, they also earned the admiration and support of their peers.  In the strange world that is the KISS Army, cavorting about in costume makes anyone a sideshow celebrity.

6Aug/10Off

Something (Fried) For Everybody

DevoColumbus1

The Brothers Mothersbaugh whip it good at the Ohio State Fair.

"How many people believe de-evolution is real?" called out DEVO bassist Jerry Casale during a lively performance at the Ohio State Fair on Wednesday.  Perhaps no other venue is better suited for procuring anecdotal evidence for the band's philosophy, as the fair was populated by a typical assortment of Ohioans representing a wide swath of the evolutionary scale.  There to indulge their worst dietary habits were a number of vendors offering the signature fair food, which is anything that has been deep-fried.  Beyond the traditional elephant ears, funnel cakes and french fries wafted the aroma of deep-fried candy bars, Twinkies, Oreos, Pop Tarts, peanut butter buckeyes and even garlic mashed potatoes.  "If you fry it, they will come" seems to be the mantra of our state fair, and that may be as damning a tidbit of evidence for de-evolution as any.

How fitting, though, that amongst the fetid stalls of prize-winning livestock and numerous exhibits featuring the best of Ohio's diverse products should be a showcase for the Akron band that was not only ahead of its time but ahead of its place as well.  Promoting their recent release, Something For Everybody, DEVO is enjoying a resurgence in popularity and long-overdue recognition for a unique and enduring artistic statement.  They gave their home state an entertaining set that demonstrated the compelling mix that they have offered throughout their career:  incisive social satire and infectious songs delivered with great technical skill and an irresistible sense of humor.

7May/10Off

Welcome Back, My Friends (Again)

EmersonLakeMarquee5

If at first you don't succeed...

Fans of Keith Emerson and Greg Lake can be forgiven for being a little nervous this past Wednesday when an announced 7:30 showtime came and went with no sight of the famous prog rockers.  Sure, it's not unusual at all for rock concerts to start quite late, but those of us squirming restlessly in our seats had been through this once before.  As previously documented, the Emerson/Lake tour had been set to debut in Cleveland on April 1, but the show was abruptly called off at the last second to the consternation of a stunned audience.  The next two dates were canceled as well, and sheepish statements were issued from the boys that vaguely attributed the mishap to unresolved technical issues.  When at last the tour started with a successful date in Annapolis, the next evening's show in Alexandria was canceled due to laryngitis.  Finally the ball got rolling, and our heroes managed to pull of a dozen consecutive performances without incident.  Ticketholders from previously canceled shows were assuaged with rescheduled dates.  Then, on what would have been the duo's thirteenth concert in a row on April 28, Lake's illness forced a cancellation at Colorado Springs.  Before returning to Cleveland, the Emerson/Lake tour continued with a trio of Texas shows.  So, given the tour's 79% success rate, we weren't about to get too excited until we saw the whites of their English eyes.

The minutes passed by, dry ice swirled under the lighting rig, a bottle of water was set in place for Mr. Lake -- all of the things that had happened last time at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium.  As I began to experience an uncomfortable feeling of deja vu and reassured myself that they surely would not cancel a second time, the noticeably thinner audience was getting restless.  My front-row seat at center stage was flanked by three empty seats to my left and three empty seats to my right.  Even some of the people in the VIP orchestra pit seating had apparently taken refunds rather than return.  Someone called out from behind me, "We've waited a month!" Then, just a couple minutes shy of eight o'clock, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake took the stage, and all was forgiven.

2Apr/10Off

Come Inside, The Show’s About To Start…

EmersonLakeMarquee

...guaranteed to blow your head apart...rest assured you'll get your money's worth...

Last night's Lakewood, Ohio concert by Keith Emerson and Greg Lake was the stuff of dreams.  I should know, for as a longtime fan of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the prog-rock trio has literally appeared in my somnambulistic scenarios no less than three times.  In one ridiculous dream from years ago, they arrived at my house for the purpose of playing a game of Scrabble on my deluxe, $500, Franklin Mint Collector's Edition board.  In another, I sat on a gym floor and watched them perform to hardly anyone from mere feet away.  More recently, I dreamt that I stumbled across ELP playing an outdoor set in a park, and I simply ambled up to the front of the stage.  I suppose hours and hours of listening to Brain Salad Surgery and Tarkus will do that to the sleeping mind.

So when I heard that two-thirds of my favorite band were due to appear in a high school auditorium near Cleveland to kick off an unprecedented series of intimate, semi-unplugged shows, I was intrigued.  It sounded like something I would dream.  I checked the date and was surprised to find that it coincided with the very beginning of my Spring Break;  I could conceivably head up north after school and catch the show.  Then, when I got in on a fan club presale and purchased a single ticket, I was definitely excited.  I would be sitting in the middle of the first row.  Like my actual ELP dreams, this reality was strange, wonderful, and maybe too good to be true.

   
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