The Dude on the Right
Al Di Meola
A Concert Review
Another day, another dollar. Well, I wish anyway! The week was
kinda strange, some snow, then no snow only cold, then warmer, then
light, then dark. Yep, it was a week. But I got to see some cool
shows, specifically Al Di Meola at the Cubby Bear, and J.P. and the
Cats and the usual Bog location! We'll start with a guitarist named
Al Di Meola.
I have never even heard of Al Di Meola before, but my counterpart
said "Dude on the Right, we should go see Al Di Meola. He's a
really good guitar player." And I said, "Okay, Dude on the
Left, I'll take a chance." And so, we were off. On a snowy
Sunday night, we made our way to the north side to the Cubby Bear.
We saw the second of two shows that evening, what was supposedly the
9:30 show but didn't start until about 10:30. Oh well, it just kept
the visits to the bartender a little more regular. And then the show
On a cramped Cubby Bear stage were six very talented musicians.
Al Di Meola and his World Project found there respective locations
behind their congas, and string basses, keyboards, and guitars.
Somehow they all fit. Then the awe set in.
On tour promoting his new CD, "Orange and Blue,"
Di Meola broke into some of the best guitar work I have seen in a
while. His fingers flew up and down and around his guitars, and did
more guitar changes in one song than I've ever seen. But it worked.
From acoustic to electric and back again, you could here his South
American influences, especially in his newer material. Between
trading duels with the conga-man, to playing some drums himself, to
having the crowd just amaze at his fingers flying on his guitars, Al
Di Meola found a new fan, and that is me. I enjoyed the show, and
the only little drawback was some of the older fans wanted a few
older songs. Even though, they still seemed to have a great time.
And so, Al Di Meola gets TWO THUMBS UP from me!! I like it!
And then came J.P. and the Cats. They came back to the Bog and
brought a whole slew of new material that was better left at home.
J.P. and the Cats used to be one of those bands that from the
opening songs could get a crowd going. But they just couldn't do it
this time. From the Offspring number they played twice (a total
no-no as far as I'm concerned), to the Candlebox hit "Far
Behind" that as I heard one person say, "it sounds like
the country version," J.P. just couldn't get things going till
far in the evening. That's when they went back to the staples that
made them Bog favorites before. "Brown Eyed Girl" from Van
Morrison started getting people on the dance floor, but as scary as
it sounds, the crowd finally started to have fun to YMCA by the
As I bored myself through the first set, I said to myself,
"Self, what happened to the J.P. and the Cats I knew and
loved." They just couldn't handle the Offspring, or STP, and I
don't think anyone in the world can cover Eddy Vedder, but they
finally came back towards the end which is the only thing that saved
And so, J.P. and the Cats gets a SHRUG. I just couldn't get it up
to give them a thumb. Which is too bad, because I know the kind of
show they can put on. My humble suggestion is get rid of the new
stuff they can't sing, and stick with the older stuff that the crowd
still knows and loves.
That ends it for me this week. Coming in the Bog this week is
some blues guy, that's all I know at this time, but it's supposed to
be good. Party Smart, and as always, Rellim Reeb, Rellim Reeb!!!
The Dude on the Left
Hi again! Due to circumstances beyond my control, I only got to see
one show this week, and missed the Bog. Go ahead, sue me! However,
in our continuing quest for musical well roundedness we recently saw
jazz guitar legend Al Di Meola at Cubby Bear.
I first heard Al Di
Meola several years ago, and I have been a big fan of his guitar
work ever since. His older work, of which I don't think he played
quite enough of, is acoustic jazz with a Spanish flamenco flavor.
His newer works has more of a generic WNUA feel to them with a lot
more effects and keyboards. The show sounded great, and he seemed
genuinely surprised by the crowd's enthusiastic response. The
biggest cheers came for Mediterranean Sundance, a song made famous
(among the people there anyway) by a live album "Friday Night
in San Francisco" on which he, John McLaughlin, and Paco De
Lucia play acoustic. A very cool album, just three guitars, Di Meola
in the left channel, McLaughlin center and DeLucia in the right
channel, but I digress. Another cool number was an acoustic
guitar/bongo jam that really showcased his guitar work. Over all the
show rocked. Al has some of the fastest hands I have ever seen, and
his music has a very wide range of sounds and rhythms. I especially
like the way he mixes various electric guitar effects with acoustic
stuff in the same song. I give Al Di Meola TWO THUMBS UP, and I
encourage anyone who hasn't heard him to check him out when there
looking for a change of pace. That gives Al Di Meola FOUR THUMBS UP!
Any of you with any liking of guitar work should check him out, pick
up his CD, and take a listen.
Now a few words about Cubby Bear. Back in the days when they
played a game called baseball I would frequent this fine
establishment for a few post game beers here (to drown my sorrow
mostly) but I digress again. Cubby Bear is a really nice place to
see a show. The acoustics are good and except for the post in my way
the sight lines are alright. The best thing about it is the closed
circuit TV, so even if you can't see the stage too well you can
watch it on one of the multitude of TV scattered throughout. The
camera man seemed a bit jittery, and the lighting left a little to
be desired at times, but he got some nice close ups of Al's guitar
work to make up for it.
That's it till next week, so until next time, Peace Out, Hang
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