Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett

It was October 1962 and I was 10 years old. I was in sixth grade attending John D. Magrath Elementary School. I recall going to the 5&10 Store (H.L. Greens) in downtown Norwalk, Connecticut where they sold 45 records. My father bought me a copy of Bobby “Boris” Pickett‘s “Monster Mash” . I bugged him like crazy to purchase it for me as “Monster Mash” was a #1 radio hit that week.

I was a major fan of horror films known as melodramas in those days. I read with religious fervor Famous Monsters of Filmland. I thought it was so cool that popular music validated my passion for Universal Pictures classics such as Frankenstein and Dracula. 

(As you may recall Zacherley also had a hit with Monster Mash. Zacherley was very good friends with Dick Clark. He also had a show on WABC-TV in 1962, Shock Theater)

As soon as we got home from shopping I placed the 45 on the hi-fi and delighted in the fact  I had my own copy of “Monster Mash”. I turned on the black and white TV in my room and watched Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. It was a Saturday afternoon. I sat in front of the TV with my TV table, eating a grilled cheese sandwich. Dick Clark introduced the number one song that week with his musical guest being Bobby “Boris” Pickett who lipsynched “Monster Mash”.

Happy Halloween everybody!

Now everything's cool, Drac's a part of the band
And my monster mash is the hit of the land
For you, the living, this mash was meant too
When you get to my door, tell them Boris sent you 


The Eye of the Storm – Trucks Tedeschi Band at The Klein, Bridgeport

We braved the snow storm last night to see the Tedeschi Trucks Band (TTB) and Scrapomatic at The Klein in Bridgeport. The show was well worth it as this was the last performance of their 14 stop tour and they were prepared to give us their all. Susan Tedeschi thanked us for coming out despite the weather. We thank her and the band for playing for us on a rough weather evening.

Scrapomatic opened the evening with a particularly warm and appealing 30 minute set. Mike Mattison has a raspy singing voice that I find engaging for the blues. He was ably backed by founding member Paul Olsen and Dave Yoke on guitar . Tyler Greenwell, TTB drummer rounded out the nucleus.

Here they are performing on the TTB Tour at the Lynn Auditorium two weeks ago.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band took the stage next. I have seen the Derek Trucks Band (DTB) twice before in 2007 and 2008. I had seen Susan Tedeschi as the female singer with The Other Ones in 2003. The dimensional difference of TTB vs. DTB was striking. I wasn’t ready for the collective onslaught of an 11 member nucleus band. They exhibit maturity beyond measure. Their precision and execution of their collective musical craft was powerful to witness. I found myself happily stunned many times last night. The band took me in new sonic directions I had longed to find for some time now. I just never knew until I heard TTB where those explorations lay and how enraptured by the journey I would become.

Copyright Joe Brule

The soul stew revival delivery is a liberating musical and aural experience. There is so much happening on stage you’re not sure where to look or listen at times. Yes, Susan Tedeschi and her husband Derek Trucks are the orchestra leaders. They play off the musicianship of a worthy all-star cast. From left to right on stage you have the steady keyboards (along with his flute playing) of Kofi Burbridge. His brother Oteil, stands next to him holding down the bottom with his eclectic bass guitar work. Next on the risers are the two drummers, J.J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell who lay down a very textured syncopation. Derek Trucks with his dozen years of service with The Allman Brothers Band has learned how to join Oteil and the two drummers as an ocean of sound.

TTB also features a three-man horn section and two back up singers.  The precision of the horns and backing vocals is masterful in its execution.

The evening flowed like champagne from a bottle, evenly tasting each song title as we sipped the music sound with the band. I found the intersection with avant-garde jazz, classic blues, soul and the TTB Revelator CD songs an unbeatable combination. You couldn’t quibble about the amount or diversity of the music. As a listener you were constantly challenged with what song and music direction TTB would play next.

Derek Trucks is jaw-dropping to watch as his slide work is incredible. He is the quietest guitarist on the stage, nary a word does he utter. he lets his hands and the guitar do his talking. He accents the music with sharp contrasts and adds signifying endings to the Revelator songs. He commands so much respect when he solos. You shake your head in total disbelief that someone can play the guitar to such amazing heights.

Copyright by Joe Brule

It’s difficult to pinpoint all the highlights we saw, my favorite moments were several. I loved the jazz textured direction of  The Allman Brothers ‘”Standback”  which featured Derek accenting on guitar and Kebbi Williams on saxophone. It felt like they turned the clock back to 1959 and we were in the midst of a Coltrane experience as two persons as they jammed.

I especially enjoyed when Susan Tedeschi let loose on “That Did It”. Her fast-paced blues guitar playing coupled with her strong vocals confirmed my belief in her as a formidable blues musician. I love her voice and stage presence. She anchors herself well in TTB.

The song I loved the most (after Midnight In Harlem which I was so psyched they played) was “Uptight” by Stevie Wonder. The band was on a tear at this point of the evening. It was a great rendition that had the audience up and dancing. It was even more fun to see Susan dancing with the vocalists and horn section like a sock hop collection at the rear of the stage. The band truly enjoys what it is doing and playing. It’s a warm infectious sight to behold for the state of music when you are subjected to some artists who just march through their set lists and collect their checks.

Rumor has it that the Trucks Tedeschi Band has a live CD and DVD in the works. Let me tell you that is something you will want to get when it is available.

Two Hour Set
1. Don't Let Me Slide
2. Everybody's Talkin' At Me
3. Midnight In Harlem
4. Learn How to Love
5. Simple Things
6. Soul Serenade(Instrumental)
7. Bound For Glory
8. Stand Back
9. Darling Be Home Soon (Lovin Spoonful)
10. That Did It (Bobby "Blue" Band)
11. Uptight (Stevie Wonder)
12. Love Has Something Else to Say*
13.  Shrimp & GritsEncore
14. Wade in the Water
An Afro-American spiritual sung as a prayer by TTB to help us all get home safe :)
15. Sing A Simple Song>
16. I Wanna Take You Higher
Yossi Pollack's stellar taping is available here:

*Saunders Sermons, Trombonist sings "Kissing My Love" by Bill Withers

Can’t let a little bit of snow keep us from the Tedeschi Trucks, Scrapomatic Show

We have been looking forward to seeing and hearing the Tedeschi Trucks Band and Scrapomatic for some time now. Thankfully we have tickets to their sold out engagement at The Klein tonight. Bridgeport is right next door for us so soon we’ll be enjoying a magnificent concert from this 11 person band.

I’m hoping “Midnight in Harlem” will be a song in their set list. Love that song 🙂

The Rum Diary + Soundtrack

I caught Johnny Depp‘s appearance on The David Letterman Show last night to promote his production company (Infinitum Nihl) film The Rum Diary. I am glad I stayed awake for Johnny’s interview with Dave as this has re-ignited my passion for Hunter S. Thompson‘s gonzo journalism.

I was happily surprised to discover that the movie The Rum Diary is based upon the “first” novel by the Hunter S. Thompson. Johnny Depp as a close friend of Hunter S. Thompson(to learn more about Johnny Depp’s explosive pal read the Newsweek column Depp wrote) was the first to discover the original pieces of the book while going through a box at Hunter’s home. It was then the pact was struck between the two of them that a film could be made from these writings. Johnny Depp quipped to Hunter S. Thompson that first a book should be published. The Rum Diary was written in the early 1960s but was not published until 1998.

The Rum Diary.jpg

The movie, The Rum Diary was filmed in 2009. The Web site for The Rum Diary is smartly designed, with rich, interactive content that provides an engaging browsing experience. You owe to yourself if you remotely consider this film to peruse the site.

Take a minute to watch the trailer, I found it to be both humorous and strikingly original. We are eagerly looking forward to seeing the movie this weekend.

It’s noteworthy that Johnny Depp plays as a musician on four tracks on the The Rum Diary Soundtrack. He plays some instrumental rockers with his band, the Johnny Depp Band. There is a stark contrast of his musicianship on “The Mermaid Song” which he performs as a solo pianist. The same song is then sung by Johnny Depp’s bohemian kin Patti Smith. “The Mermaid Song” is performed a capella featuring Patti’s unique tonality. Her phrasing coupled with the timbre in her voice is haunting and poignant.

MC5 – Kick Out The Jams, Motherfucker

Revolution is in the air as Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street gain momentum. 2011 is reminiscent in ways of the sentiment  in 1968 when revolution took to the streets. Music has always played a role in shaping our thoughts when there is strife.

The Detroit high-energy rock scene in 1969 gave us the central protopunk bands known as the MC5 and The Stooges. I was 17 years old then and the rock and roll scene plus its voice, Rolling Stone magazine were my prurient interests.

The first and most explosive MC5 recording was Kick Out The Jams. It is their signature recording. How rare is it that a début album is recorded live and sold to the public for their digestion? Virtually never.

The influence MC5 had on the punk rock music scene is clear throughout this live recording. If you listen closely to “Kick Out The Jams” you can hear  The Ramones sound. MC5 is the bedrock for many of the punk rock bands that followed.

MC5’s Kick Out The Jams introduced me to my favorite rock and roll music journalist, Lester Bangs. His review of Kick Out The Jams was his first published article for Rolling Stone magazine.

I recall the controversy that surrounded the MC5. I am not a fan of censorship and the use of the word, “motherfucker” posed the MC5 and Elektra Records issues through its sales channels. I purchased the “uncensored” Elektra vinyl recording of the MC5’s Kick Out The Jams and I played it real loud.

The MC5 was rooted in hard-core revolutionary politics. They represented the thrash for the White Panther Party led by John Sinclair, who was their manager. You may recall John Sinclair from the song “John Sinclair” by John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Elephants Memory on the album, Sometime in New York City.

It is important to note that one of the founding members of MC5 was lead guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Smith number ninety-three in its list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.[5] The band Sonic Youth took its name from Smith’s nickname.

Motor City 5 "a.k.a. MC5" - MC5 pictures from 1969 LS-4137-002

Fred “Sonic” Smith was married to Patti Smith. They were introduced to each other by Lenny Kaye. Patti Smith wrote a song about her husband, entitled “Frederick” which appears on her Wave album.

File:Frederick - Patti Smith Group.jpg

I especially like how full circle Fred “Sonic” Smith’s activist vision became as a result of writing “People Have The Power” which is an anthem for protest. Fred “Sonic” Smith passed away at 46 years of age in 1994 of a heart attack.

Patti Smith performs this song with conviction and purpose. It speaks to the triumph of the human spirit and their symbiotic, eternal relationship.

Related articles

What happened to Lee Michaels?

There was a rock musician named Lee Michaels who was popular in the early 70s. His command of the Hammond B3 sound (which I never tire of hearing) has always held my rapt attention. His soulful vocals were resonant, sharply accented by a strong upper range. He was known for his Top 10 hit in 1971, “Do You Know What I Mean?”.

Lee Michaels recorded and performed with just one other musician, a powerhouse drummer by the name of “Frosty” (Bartholomew Eugene Smith-Frost). The sonics they produced were amazing for a two person ensemble.

The Lee Michaels album that was on my turntable the most was Lee Michaels on A&M Records (1969). It was a spontaneous masterpiece that Lee Michaels and Frosty recorded in six hours. The WNEW-FM 102.7 radio station played Lee Michaels Side One regularly late at night because it flowed so well from one track to the next.

 Michaels recorded two more albums for A&M before signing a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1973. His Columbia recordings failed to generate much interest, and Michaels went into semi-retirement from the music industry by the end of the 70s decade. (Source: wikipedia)

I’m happy to report that Lee Michaels has surfaced as the creator of the recipe known as “Killer Shrimp” This is a scenic restaurant in the Marina Del Ray, California boat basin. It appears his brother Kevin Michaels is the owner. The restaurant just re-opened this fall. If you want to more details about the restaurant click on over and Like their Facebook Page, Killer Shrimp.

Bob Dylan and Patti Smith

Patti Smith has an incredible knack for choosing just the right gems in Bob Dylan’s treasure chest of songs.

This first became clear to me when I purchased Twelve in 2007.

The song  by Bob Dylan that Patti Smith chose to cover on Twelve was Changing of the Guards” from Street Legal (1978).   The song has a depth that is at times beyond description and meaning.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve played and replayed that track try to discern what the song is about.  Each time we get caught up in the imagery of knights, chivalry and England, enjoying the pageantry but never solidifying the tale. Dylan once commented: “It means something different every time I sing it. ‘Changing of the Guards’ is a thousand years old'”.[1] 

I owned Street Legal on vinyl in 1978 but somehow the sands of time erased that song from my consciousness. It wasn’t until Patti Smith sang and then polished this gem with her band on Twelve that I gained the appreciation for the magnificent imagery this song portrays for the listener


Patti Smith was quoted in the December 9, 2010 Rolling Stone magazine special issue, The Playlist Issue: 50 Artists Pick Their Personal Top 10s about her favorite Bob Dylan Love songs:

In 1995, my band toured with Bob Dylan along the East Coast. He relayed, through his people, that if I chose one of his songs, we could sing it together. All night long I contemplated what I should choose, and how I might sing it. I chose “Dark Eyes,” a relatively obscure song with a lyric worthy of William Blake. Each night he would call me to the stage, and we sang it side by side, so close that at times beads of sweat dripped from his lashes to my cheek. I have tried many times, without success, to write a song to Bob Dylan, to express my gratitude for all he has given us through his work. But perhaps, having been faithful in my own way, from afar since I was 16 years old, is song enough.

Patti Smith recently recorded Bob Dylan’s “Drifter’s Escape” from John Wesley Harding for the Bob Dylan 70th Birthday and Amnesty International 50th Anniversary Dylan tribute recording. The album is titled Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International, the set arrives on November 22, 2011.

Again I am taken with a gem that Patti Smith hand-picked by Bob Dylan. I have listened to John Wesley Harding often yet this song escaped my grasp. I will be listening more intently now through Patti Smith when I get this recording. 🙂


Patti Smith’s Exhibtion, Camera Solo at the Wadsworth Atheneum

Rosemary and I spent a delightful afternoon in Hartford, CT at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Our mission was to spend quality time with Patti Smith‘s photography exhibition entitled Camera Solo.

It was our second visit to the Wadsworth Atheneum in three days. We were first there on Friday October 21, 2011 for the opening of the exhibition. We attended a signing by Patti Smith in the Avery Court at 11:00 a.m.

We brought a copy of the exhibition catalog and Patti Smith’s latest CD, Outside Society for Patti to sign. It’s always a friendly interchange with Patti Smith. She signed both the cover and the liner notes for Outside Society as well as the inner pages of the catalog.

Patti Smith was gracious to allow me a photograph of her after she signed.

We couldn’t stay to pursue the exhibition on Friday as we wanted to get to Mohegan Sun to get online to see Stephen Stills at the Wolf Den. (see yesterday’s blog post for that event). We made a pact that we would return to the Wadsworth Atheneum on Sunday.

We love what we learn each time we have a touch point with Patti Smith. Our art tastes have been extended to a whole new plane of thought. Patti Smith is a prism into many forms of art, visual, audio, literature, poetry and now photographic experiences.

The Patti Smith: Camera Solo exhibition was exquisitely curated. There were more than 70 photographs by Patti Smith, displayed along the walls.

There was also interesting physical mementos such as Robert Mapplethorpe‘s slippers and Patti Smith’s father’s Charles Dickens cup she had gotten him in London. You could just see her father savoring his coffee in it 🙂

We especially liked the 7+ minute 16 mm black and white film about Rene Daumal that Patti Smith directed and narrated with her articulate voice adding poetic emotion. This was the first time we had seen the film. It was a visual excursion in Paris that taught us more about the life of  a great poet. Jem Cohen did the camera work which was a visual  surreal immersion.

My favorite Patti Smith Polaroid photograph was the bed of Virginia Wolf where the sheet forms a raised cross.  I found this photograph the most peaceful as it represents the rising of one’s spirit. It fortified today’s homily at mass about how we move to the afterlife at the moment of death.

Stephen Stills at Mohegan Sun Wolf Den,October 21, 2011

There is something reassuring about taking a favorite book down from the shelf and getting reacquainted with the pages between the covers.

How well this adage held true when we saw Stephen Stills live at the Wolf Den last night.

I was surprised to learn from a friend of mine that Stephen Stills was playing for free only an hour away from our home. As I told my friend Dave, “You outslutted the concert slut ; with this event”

Stephen Stills appearance was part of the 15th Anniversary celebration events at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville Ct.

Stephen Stills

I had my doubts we would get into the Wolf Den to see an artist of the stature and reputation of Stephen Stills. I felt this because you have to get online early for their shows. It’s a first come, first get basis venue. I expected a long line in place by the time we got to the Wolf Den at 12:45 p.m. (6 hours before they allow an audience in…). Surprisinly there were only 10 people on-line, which we knew could mushroom to 40 as people place hold in line there (a maximum of 4 people as a party per person…) They handed out cards with numbers on them last night as there were lots of dignitaries, “A” listers and high rollers in attendance. This made less “free” seats available. Stephen Stills is the first artist I have ever waited 8 hours to see without a ticket in hopes of getting in…(He did not appear onstage until 8:45 p.m.)

Thankfully we got inside and were given a table about 20 feet from the stage. I have seen Stephen Stills twice before, once in the rafters of Mohegan Sun Casino Arena for the CSNY Freedom of Speech tour (2006) and then with CSN at the Meadowlands in 2010 from the lawn.

Stephen Stills and his band were top-notch. I find Steven Stills to be one of my favorite guitarists to watch. His guitar playing amazed me all night long. He kept his guitar tech busy let me tell you. Stephen Stills played both an acoustic and electric set. My iPhone lost power last night so I was unable to document a set list.

Some of the songs I recall from last night were a wonderful rendition of “Johnny’s Garden” from the first Manassas album. I was entranced with an intriguing interlude of The Beatles, “Within You, Without You“, that fused effortlessly with the Crosby, Stills and Nash classic, “Suite Judy Blue Eyes“. He also played “4+20” from Deja Vue and “Helplessly Hoping” during the acoustic set.

I loved the rendition of “Bluebird” he opened the show with as it rocked so tight. It was really cool to see him on electric piano which is rare.

He ended the evening with a rousing version of “Woodstock” . The encore consisted of “Love the One You’re With” from the Stephen Stills album and then he finished with the Buffalo Springfield gem, “For What It’s Worth”.