Monday, June 30, 2008


Digitized from the original CD, released in 2003 on Sanctuary Records.
Format: Mp3
Bit Rate: 320 kbps
Produced By: Tommy Shaw, James Young & Gary Loizzo
Associate Producers: Lawrence Gowan, Todd Sucherman & Glen Burtnik
Engineered By: Gary Loizzo
Assistant Engineers: Charlie Pakaari, Craig Williams, Mark Linnett, Plinky Giglio, Dave Yackoboskie, Jimmy Hoyson, Jim Mitchell, Bruce Monical
Recorded At: Pumpkin Studios, Chicago IL; The S.H.O.P., Los Angeles, CA; Dr CAW Recording, Northbrook, IL, Colorado Sound, Denver Co; Capitol Studios, Hollywood CA; The Cave, Los Angeles, CA; Seventeenth Avenue Productions, Manville N.J; The Pond, North Brunswick, N.J; & Your Place Or Mine, Glendale CA.
Album Cover: Storm Thorgerson & Dimo Safari with Dan Abbot
Do Things My Way
Waiting For Our Time
Fields Of The Brave
Bourgeois Pig
Kiss Your Ass Goodbye
These Are The Times
Yes I Can
More Love For The Money
Fooling Yourself (Palm Of Your Hands)
Captain America
Killing The Thing That You Love
One With Everything
Genki Desu Ka
Chuck Panozzo – Bass, Background Vocals
Tommy Shaw – Guitars, Mandolin, Vocals
Glen Burtnik – Bass, Guitar, Vocals
Lawrence Gowan – Keyboards, Synthesizers, Vocals
James “JY” Young – Guitars, Vocals
Todd Sucherman – Drums, Percussion, Loops, Percussive Synth Bass, Vocals

Just a short one from yours truly....
This album rocks, period. If you don't have it you need to get it. My one suggestion would be on first listen to this awesome piece of work is to think of this as a new band's first effort and don't let your preconceptions and feelings about Styx (whatever they might be) get in the way of listening to this album. Keep it pure, first time though put on the headphones and crank it up a notch, or two. Second time thru read along with the lyrics as the tunes rock by. 3rd time I shouldn't have to tell you what to do but you'll probably be singing along or doing some serious air guitar (or drums). I got this CD when it came out and 2003 and it's still in the main rotation 5 years later. I hope the next one is somewhere close to this one in quality.
If you're thinking Styx is a bunch of old burnouts or not the same without Dennis DeYoung on board, throw those thoughts away and let yourself enjoy an excellent piece of Rock and Roll.
NICE job guys!
This is Styx' comeback Album, February 24, 2003
By K. Palmer (Illinois) - Amazon Customer Review
I will admit that I wrote off Styx after Dennis DeYoung split from the band several years ago. I just couldn't believe that anybody could replace his vocals that made up the heart of the Styx sound. I've avoided the live albums that have been issued after Dennis' departure, but when I heard a song from the new CD Cyclorama on the radio I was intrigued. A web search revealed some additional songs, all of which were good which made me decide to take the plunge and make the purchase.
A pretty good decision, I have to say.
Styx has decided not to use DeYoung replacement Lawrence Gowan as a one-for-one replacement of DeYoung, but instead uses him effectively in background vocals and keyboards. He only sings lead on two of the tracks (much less than DeYoung would have contributed had he been here). Gowan's voice is so-so on these tracks and they are probably the weakest on the CD, but his other talents can be heard thoughout. I now conclude that Gowan is a competent addition to the band.
James Young has the highlight of the CD in my opinion with "These Are The Times", maybe his best song ever. It's long and bombastic is places, but the chorus has a great hook and I could listen to it several times in a row (I have, actually).
Tommy Shaw again does consistently good work both in songwriting and execution. Without the headaches of dealing with DeYoung (which have been chronicled often), he gets back to his rocking days when he was with Ted Nugent, which is obviously where his musical heart is. He has to be nearing 50, but he hasn't lost a step.
Glen Burtnik, who I thought was the star of the band's 1990's "Edge of the Century" when he replaced Shaw, brings a pop element into the mix with K.Y.A.G. A very talented musician who I'm glad the band kept in mind during its shakeup.
I see that with only a few exceptions, the song writing credits are given to the entire band, a strong show of teamwork that was missing on Styx's last studio effort 4 years ago when DeYoung did his thing and Shaw and Young did their thing and they hodge-podged it together with less than lukewarm results.
A fine return effort. I might even see a concert this summer!
3.5 stars, December 31, 2005
By S. R. - Amazon Customer Review
After the dust has settled between Styx purists (get real) and those who just really like the band's music the general consensus, and I agree wholeheartedly, that this album is indeed a winner. Now it's no "Grand Illiusion" but who cares, that was 1977 and its.....much later. JY and Tommy's band of brothers have pooled their collective talents and cobbled an album that's solid front to back with the better material coming from Lawrence Gowan ("Fields of the Brave", "More Love for the Money")and veteran songsmith Glen Burtnik ("Kiss your ass..."). Mostly gone is the last remnants of the very little prog influence that the band had from their 70s heydays, and what's left is solid songwriting ideas delivered with much verve.(not much can be said about progressive music today except that after the boundaries were broken in the 60s and 70s everything else is copied, just like the rest of rock and roll, but that's another topic))Brian Wilson makes an appearance singing background vocals to "Fooling Yourself", or at least about 30 seconds of it, and several other guest crop up here and there. As far as the Styx body of work, "Cyclorama" delivers and has an upbeat feel with an extra emphasis on quality. That being said many will wretch at the notion of a dinosaur band still being relevant today, but this review doesn't take into account 19 and 20 year-old's immature tastes. It's a good release.
Easily the best since Pieces of Eight, February 18, 2003
By Robert Koehl "Village Idiot" (Plano, Tx United States) - Amazon Customer Review
This new album is the best studio work Styx has released since 1978, not that old-school Styx fans will ever admit it, as this is also Styx's equivalent of Floyd's "Momentary Lapse of Reason." Some fans will never accept that people grow up and change. These fans will never accept that Dennis DeYoung's musical vision and direction changed, and were no longer compatible with the other guys in the band, regardless of how many times these fans listen to Brave New World, and should be thus reminded. They'll never accept that this is a great band, regardless of who is in the lineup. (Not that I have anything against Dennis, it was just that he no longer fit in with THIS band)
That having been said, Tommy, JY, Glen, Todd, and Lawrence have knocked one out of the park with this disc. Returning member Glen Burtnik (who replaced Tommy during the "Show me the Way" era of Styx) pretty much steals the show on this one. His happy, bouncy, goofball song about death, "Kiss Your A** Goodbye" is the highlight of the album. He also has a creepy number toward the end about Mark Chapman. DeYoung's successor Gowan contributed two Beatles'esque numbers. JY's "These are the Times" is another highlight. It's about the most intense number on the cd, with a break in the middle that gives me chills. When Gowan divebombs those 70s synth leads, and Tommy sings that "pouring light from the sky" line . . . wow. And speaking of Tommy, he's in absolute top form. The opening two tracks are absolute anthems. His duet with Glen on "Yes I Can" is beautiful. This man is absolutely amazing. The band also proves that they can out prog ELP on a track entitled "One With Everything." They also do a 40 acapella reprise of "Foolin Yourself."
The only weak spot is the closing track "Genki Desu Ka" which just kinda sits. Then there's some bonus stuff after that with Tenacious D, but who cares. If you're like me, you've already re-qued track 1 by the time you get that far, and have started listening to the whole thing all over again.
READ THIS for more information on this album.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

JONNY LANG & KANSAS / June 28th, Muskegon, MI,

Rather than start off with my own review I thought I'd post the review from the paper this morning as it's not all that far off from my own thoughts.......
Review: Kansas, Jonny Lang
Posted by Kirk Carlson, The Muskegon Chronicle
June 29, 2008 00:10AM
David Ragsdale, violinist for the band Kansas, performs Saturday night at Muskegon Summer Celebration. Kansas performed before an estimated 12,000 fans.

Chronicle/Merrisa Ferguson
Blues guitarist Jonny Lang performs at Summer Celebration Saturday. Lang opened for the classic rock band Kansas.

Chronicle/Merrisa Ferguson
Yet again, the weather threatened to delay the concert. But there were no blues this time, until Jonny Lang came onstage. Guitar players beware, Lang is gonna make you jealous. He rips his guitar to shreds and makes it look effortless. And he's a triple threat: he writes, he sings and plays lead and he's been doing it since he was 15. The soulful quality of Lang's young voice is astounding; it sounds like there is age beyond his 27 years. He also has an incredible range that is breathtaking to hear live.In my view, Lang should have headlined his own night. I think the Summer Celebration staff created a very odd pairing by placing these two acts next to each other.
Attendance: 12,000.
Number of songs: 11.
Concert high: Listening to Jonny's sweet, dirty blues while a beautiful rainbow spread out over the stage.
Concert low: That he wasn't the headliner and that it had to end.
Kansas is not a blues group, nor do they use R & B in their music. In fact, that may be the only style they don't borrow from: they use classical, hard rock, folk, progressive rock and pop forms to create their own individual brand of music. For a small band, they sure pack a big sound. Kansas explores various mixtures of instrumentation to keep their concert moving. However, there was more than one time during their portion of the concert that I found my concentration waning.
Attendance: 12,000.
Number of songs: 15.
Concert high: The dramatic and inspiring opening to the concert: "Magnum Opus," "Musicatto" and "Point of No Return."
Concert low: Throughout most of the concert, the mellow crowd was quite unresponsive to the music. That's not how I recall the 1996 performance.
It was inspiring hearing Kansas's progressive rhythms and melodies, 30 years after they were originally written. Some of their rhythmic style I would still call "progressive" to this day. Compared to the last time they played here, their musicianship was still high quality, but their energy level was naturally lower than it was 10 years ago. While a handful of people were up on their feet moving, the majority of the crowd was sitting in their chairs or staying close to the beer garden. Highlights of the evening included Lang's soulful rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Livin' for the City" Kansas's inspiring rendition of "Dust in the Wind" even if the vocals were a little too high for the aging singer. I'm still struck by the strange pairing this evening. Lang and Kansas are like oil and water. Perfect by themselves, but unnecessary together unless you're making pasta.
I left the house and headed for Muskegon about 3:30pm. Last time I attended an event there several years ago (Lynyrd Skynyrd) there was a huge line waiting to get in and I was hoping to avoid that this time around with an early arrival. I got the truck parked right where I wanted to be and headed on into the grounds. The first thing I see though is a setup called Pork Chop Downs.....a pig racing deal. My curiousity got the best of me and because the next event started in 5 minutes I stuck around to see a half dozen pigs do one lap around a fenced in enclosure to see who could make it to the food dish first. Obviously the pig with the best memory is going to have an advantage with this setup. I watched a couple races and then headed off to get my ticket. Once I had my ticket I headed back to where the line was and was amazed to see it as long as it was. I ended up in just about the same spot to wait that I did last time.
We had an hour + to wait before the gates opened and a conversation started with the guy next to me who was there with his daughter and her boyfriend. We got to talking music and other topics and found that we had a uncanny number of things in common. He was a cool dude, about 45 I would've guessed and was amazed when his daughter told me later that he would be having his 60th birthday party July 2nd! We continued our convesation and ended up hanging out together the entire evening, right up front, hanging on to the fence that keeps the unwashed hodes from the band. Nothing in between us and the souce but the fence, the only way to experience a show.
Although there hadn't been a cloud in the sky when I left home by the time we had claimed our spots at the fence the sky had become dark and foreboding. The wife called and said there was a storm headed our way and it wasn't 5 minutes later that it was raining. As luck would have it where we were standing we were partially protected from the onslaught by the canopy over the band so although we got wet we didn't get beat up as bad as the folks back in the seats. Fortunately though, after a bit of delay things calmed down to a drizzle and the warm-up band, a local outfit from G.R, came on and played a pretty tight set. They were an enjoyable listen, the guitar player in particular caught my attention.
The weather continued to improve and just about the time that Jonny Lang and his band came out the sun popped thru the clouds and shed a bit of warmth on us damp creatures. Now first I gotta say that I have heard some Jonny Lang so I knew what to expect pretty much even though I don't have any of his CD's, yet. When he and his band just walked out on stage, picked up their instruments and broke into the first tune I was impressed and they played 3 or 4 songs before Jonny even came up to the mic to say thanks. They were there to play and play they did. While Jonny was doing a great job at the mic and on the guitar what really impressed me was his rhythm section. The drummer was freakin' awesome, very funky and his fills were impressive to say the least. Towards the end of the set he got a chance to solo a bit and I was in awe. The bass player too was fantastic. He played a 5 string bass and knew how to walk that thing all over the place. Very melodic work and fundamental at the same time. good good stuff.
It was starting to get dark by the time Kansas was ready to hit the stage and they too just came out and started playing with no introduction. It's been a long time since I've seen one of my all time favorite bands live and I was fired up to hear some of the good ole stuff. In that respect they did not disappoint, starting out with Magnum Opus and playing Cheyenne Anthem, Portrait, Dust In The Wind, and even a rockin' version of Down The Road during their set among others. Out of the original 6 members though only 3 were there this night. Phil Ehart on drums, Rich Williams on guitar with the ever present patch over the eye and Steve Walsh on Keyboards. Billy Greer on bass was to be expected as he's played with them since the 80's but I was disappointed that Robby Steinhardt was not on the violin. David Ragsdale had taken over that spot and although he did a splendid job I missed Robby's presense up front. I was also a bit baffled at first as to why Steve's keyboards were in the back, alongside the drums instead of up front and center like in the past but it became somewhat obvious why during the show. Now this is probably not fair cuz we're both 30 years older but Steve did very little moving around, only leaving the Keyboard pedestal once or twice all night to come towards the front of the stage. In the old days he was a dynamo, running all over the place and throwing himself into the performace 100%. More disturbing than that was the fact that he didn't do all the singing when it should've been him and in fact Billy Greer took care of the lead vocals on a number of the tunes that Steve originally did. The most disturbing thing though was his demeanor. It seemed to me as if he'd rather be anywhere than on stage playing Kansas tunes. He seemed disconnected to the whole experience, looking off into space when there was a keyboard break or fiddling with his hair.....kinda like someone waiting for the bus to get there so they could go home.
I didn't get a whole lot better vibe when watching Rich on his guitars. He too seemed disassociated with the rest of the band and spent most of the evening fiddling with his pedal setup and amps. I think I saw him smile once but other than that the word stoic comes to mind more than any other.
Phil on the other hand was a man on a mission and played his heart out all night and let me tell ya he still has his chops. Awesome drumming work. Both David Ragsdale and Billy did their part to carry the load and present a quality event. Billy was also the one that did the talking to the crowd and seemed to enjoy the enthusiasm of the crowd up front. All I remember Steve saying was Thank you after a number
So, while the music was certainly Kansas and played very well it wasn't like the old days. I know that's a damn stupid thing to say but it just bothered me that at least Steve and Rich seemed so out of it.......Given the opportunity to see 'em again next week I'd go but at this point I guess I'd consider them past the creative stage of their existance. No new material forthcoming, just there to play the old stuff we all remember and love. Certainly not a bad thing, I just hate to see it come to that for a group that's been a big part of my life since 1974.

SEA LEVEL / 1977 thru 1980

For those who may not know, this band's genesis came from Chuck Leavell (C. Level, get it?) leaving the Alllman Brothers Band and taking several other members with him. After one listens to this first Sea Level album it's not real hard to see why Chuck left the Brothers. They were obviously going in different directions musically and I'd hazard a guess that the Brothers sound was getting a bit boring and formulated for Chuck at that point in his life. So, he left and formed Sea Level. The first album was quite a knockout for me. Nice jazzy compositions and lots of nice and interesting melodies to lean on. It got a fair amount of turntable time in it's day.
For those of you who've followed this blog for awhile now you know that I'm a big Randall Bramblett fan and have been since his first solo album so imagine my pleasant surprise when the 2nd Sea Level album was released and Randall had joined the band with his great voice, keyboards and sax. "Cats On The Coast" was a knockout effort. There's nary a bad moment anywhere to be found on this entire lp. Several of Randall's tunes from his solo albums found their way onto Sea Level albums and their slightly different arrangements were a welcome addition to my collection.
To my mind by the time the 3rd album was released it should've been met with large amounts of fanfare and great reviews but other than the couple I happen to see the album seemed to be largely ignored by the masses. A crime to say the least.
By the time "A Long Walk On A Short Pier" came out I think they may had given up hope of becoming a big name, if that was a consideration for them, I dunno of course, I can only hazard a guess, but I think every band probably wants to make it big to some degree and when that doesn't happen in the timeframe you feel it should there's some demoralization that effects the overall sound and my ear could hear hints of that on their 4th effort. Still, a better album than 90% of the vinyl released that year, but not up to the standards of the first 3 releases either.
With the collapse of Capricorn records a number of bands, including Sea Level, had to find new labels to call home and their 5th effort was on Arista records. This one was a bit of a disappointment for me at the time although nowadays I like it just fine. When this album garnered them no recognition I would guess that Arista said "that's It for us" and they boys decided it was time to call it quits.
If you're a fan of Jazzy, melodic, soulful music and great instrumentation then I'd highly recommend downloading this series of albums and if you haven't done so yet, I'd go back and get the first two Randall Bramblett albums posted here. They're simply too good not to share.
Enjoy and is always appreciated.


Rain In Spain
Shake A Leg
Tidal Wave
Country Fool
Nothing Matters But The Fever
Grand Larceny
Scarborough Fair
Just A Good Feeling

Jai Johanny Johanson - Drums, Percussion
Chuck Leavell - Keyboards, Vocals, Percussion
Jimmy Nalls - Guitar, Vocals
Lamar Williams - Bass, Vocals
READ THIS for more information on this album.
That's Your Secret
It Hurts To Want It So Bad
Storm Warning
Had To Fall
Midnight Pass
Every Little Thing
Cats On The Coast
Song For Amy
Randall Bramblett - Vocals, Saxophones, Keyboards
Davis Causey - Guitars, Vocals
Jai Johanny Johanson - Drums, Percussion
Chuck Leavell - Keyboards, Vocals, Percussion
Jimmy Nalls - Guitar, Vocals
George Weaver - Percussion
Lamar Williams - Bass, Vocals

READ THIS for more information on this album.

King Grand
Living In A Dream
A Lotta Colada
This Could Be The Worst
Uptown, Downtown
Electron Cold
On The Wing

Randall Bramblett - Vocals, Saxophones, Keyboards
Davis Causey - Guitars, Vocals
Joe English - Drums, Percussion
Chuck Leavell - Keyboards, Vocals, Percussion
\Jimmy Nalls - Guitar, Vocals
Lamar Williams - Bass, Vocals

READ THIS for more information on this album.


Tear Down This Wall
Canine Man
My Love
Just A Touch
A Two 'N Two
Morning Light
Too Many Broken Hearts
Twenty Miles From Nowhere
Randall Bramblett - Vocals, Keyboards, Saxophones
David Causey - Guitar
Joe English - Drums, Percussion
Chuck Leavell - Vocals, Keyboards
Jimmy Nalls - Guitar, Vocals
Lamar Williams - Bass
READ THIS for more information on this album.


Wild Side
School Teacher
Comfort Range
Anxiously Awaiting
We Will Wait
You Mean So Much To Me
Don't Want To Be Wrong

Randall Bramblett - Vocals, Keyboards, Saxophones
David Causey - Guitar
Joe English - Drums
Chuck Leavell - Vocals, Keyboards
Jimmy Nalls - Guitar
Lamar Williams - Bass
Matt Greeley - Percussion, Vocals

READ THIS for more information on this album.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Sorry for the quiet lately. This is a busy time of year for me and I hate to spend time indoors when the summer is so short. I will try to post at least semi-regular during the summer months and once the cold returns things will pick up here again.
Awhile back I posted Ian Matthews album from 1976 "Go For Broke". Since then I've been meaning to upload several others that I've enjoyed immensely over the years.
Ian is nothing if not prolific and he has put out several dozen albums with different bands and musical line-ups over the years, starting in the late '60's. They vary somewhat in listenability, with the older stuff sometimes hard to listen to because of poor production or other technical issues, but that's just me...some folks love the older, more folksy stuff better. At some point I may post a couple of the older ones as I have about a dozen Ian albums that cover a range from 1970 to 1988. For todays share I've posted two albums from the 70's and one from the 80's including my all-time favorite Ian Matthews effort, Hit And Run". I hope you'll give 'em a listen and drop a line or two if you like what you hear.


Hit and run
The frame
One day without you
I will not fade away
Tigers will survive
Just one look
Help to guide me (I need your help)

Ian Matthews - lead vocal, rhythm guitar
Tris Imboden - drums, congas
Steven Hooks - saxophones, flute
Charlie Harwood - keyboards, background vocal
Jay Lacy - lead and rhythm guitars
Don Whaley - bass guitar, support vocal
Bonnie Murray - background vocals on "help to guide me" and "I will not fade away"

READ THIS for more information on this album.


Gimme An Inch
Don't Hang Up Your Dancing Shoes
King Of The Night
Man In The Station
Let There Be Blues
Carefully Taught
Stealin' Home
Shake It
Yank & Mary (Smile)
Slip Away
Sail My Soul

Ian Matthews - Vocals, Guitar
Bryan Haworth - Guitars, Mandolin
Phil Palmer - Guitar
Jim Russel - Drums
Rick Kemp - Bass
Pete Wingfield - Keyboards
Mel Collins - Sax
Duffy Power - Harp
Simon Morton - Percussion

READ THIS for more information on this album.


Dream sequence
Standing still
Except for a tear
Following every finger
Alive alone
Smell of home
On Squirrel Hill
Shadows break
This fabrication
Lovers by rote
Only a motion
Why fight

All compositions by Jules Shear except for Dream sequence - composed and played by Fred Simon

Iain Matthews - lead and background vocals, guitars
Fred Simon - synthesizer
Van Dyke Parks - synthesizer, piano
Harlan Collins - synthesizer, percussion
Mark Hallman - synthesizer, bass, background vocals
Paul Hertzog - synthesizer, percussion
Patrick O'Hearn - synthesizer, bass

READ THIS for more information on this album.


Saturday, June 14, 2008


I recall the first time, not long ago, that I heard that two of my favorite lady musicians had somehow found each other and started a band together. I was very interested in what they would do together. I expected big things from them right away and was looking forward to hearing them add their voices to each others songs on a CD but this past Thursday night in Ann Arbor I got to see them live and I was not disappointed.
To start somewhat at the beginning, The Refugees consist of 3 wonderful ladies....Wendy Waldman, Cindy Bullens & Deborah Holland. To the folks who cruise my blog, you already know my admiration for Wendy and Cindy, but to be fair, there are 3 very talented ladies in the band and just because I had not been aware of Ms. Hollands music and talents until now certainly doesn't mean I think her a lesser performer in the band. On the contrary I found her contributions to the overall sound of the group very substantial with both a strong, pure voice and some great tunes. start somewhat at the beginning again....We left Grand Haven about 1pm and headed east. I dropped almost 50 bucks in the gas tank to get us there and back and used all that plus some.....We arrived in Ann Arbor just a bit after 4pm, found a place to park the car and then hiked around the block to check out the display case at the Ark. I wanted to try and get tickets before the doors opened and that required a 5 block hike over to the student union building. So, we hoofed it over there only to find out that ticket sales stopped at 3pm on the day of the show.......So we decided to head back to Main Street and on the way back stopped at a Mexican restaurant for dinner.
After eating Wanda wanted to go back to the car and kick back for a bit so we headed back that way and lo and behold as we came around behind the Ark, where the car was parked, here are the girls unpacking their guitars and equipment from their truck. I said Hey Cindy and introduced myself and the wife and she seemed to genuinely remember us. We didn't want to bug them too much while they were busy getting ready so we just said we're looking forward to the show and we'll talk to you later. So, once Wanda was at the car I decided to use my last hour to head back by Wazoo Records just to go in and look around long enough to say I was there. I certainly didn't have any extra money for CD's or albums at that point.
I cut thru the alley and then instead of heading for Wazoo right away I turned 180° and opened the door to the Old And Rare book store I noticed last time we went by. It was pretty much on a whim but I went in and asked the gentleman in charge if he had any Albert Payson Terhune books. His books were some of my favorites when I was a kid. The proprietor got up from his desk and said "yes, I believe I have one or two" and after some looking about the correct answer was one. He had a copy of "Bruce" which after finding out the price was a measley $7.50 I laid down my cash and became the proud owner of an original copy of Bruce, copyright 1920.
After the exchange was complete I headed out the door and beat feet to Wazoo, where I wandered around for a whopping 20 minutes, checking out the wares. I was surprised to find the prices for CD's were eleven bucks, which I thought higher than they should be.....I can get stuff cheaper than that thru Ebay and not have to leave the house to do it!
I made it back to the Ark's front door about 2 minutes before our prescribed meeting time and after the wife got there we decided to head around the corner for some ice cream. We got what we wanted and then went back to the Ark and sat on a bench and watched the Ann Arbor world go by until a minute after 7:30, when they opened the doors.
There were a couple other folks in line with us and we all headed in to pay our money and go find a seat. In my typical fashion I headed for the stage area where they had tables and chairs set up for our listening pleasure. I plopped myself down in front of the middle microphone and waited for 8pm.
Just a minute or two after 8 the lights went down and the warm-up act, a guy I'd never heard of before by the name of Dan Navarro, was introduced and came out to sing us some of his songs. It took a couple tunes to get into the groove but by the end of his fairly short set I had decided he was pretty darn good. He had a good voice and his guitar playing was above average too.......he is half of a duo called Lowen and Navarro and has been around for the last 20 years so shame on me for not having ever heard of him before.
When his set was done I made a run to the bathroom and was checking out some of the pics on the walls on the way back until I realized the girls were already on stage and tuning up. I headed for my chair, which was about 5 feet in front of Wendy and proceeded to enjoy the next hour and a half. They started off their set with Cindy's "Jellico Highway" and finished the set with the title tune from their forthcoming album UNBOUND. Inbetween for the most part they took turns with each person's material, doing a Cindy Song, then a Wendy song and so on. The Three voices together in harmony were a treat and added substance to the great tunes that I already knew. It was obvious during he show that they were having fun, Wendy was smiling a lot and dancing around and in between songs there was a bit of banter and story telling which just added to the evening's vibe.
I have to give a shout out for the 3rd lady in the band that, like Dan Navarro, I haven't heard any of her work until the concert. After watching the interaction between them and hearing her sing it's not hard to see why Deborah Holland is an important part of the Refugees sound. While Wendy's stuff has a folk bent to it and Cindy is the Rock n Roller, Deborah's tunes had a nice jazzy feel to them that just added another dimension to the groups overall sound. Wanda bought one of her CD's after the show and I'm going to be putting it on my Ipod to give it a good listen.
It was a fast and very enjoyable hour and a half but all too soon they said thanks and the lights came on. Like I did for the Tom Rush show a couple months ago, I'd bought my vinyl copys of "Strange Company" & "Desire Wire" with me to have Wendy and Cindy sign them but while standing in the lobby after the show the first lady I had the chance to talk to was Deborah. We chatted for a couple minutes and she signed Wanda's CD. She was very nice and I hope I was able to convey how much I enjoyed her singing. A couple minutes later I turned around there stood Wendy Waldman! I almost felt like a tongue-tied kid. We shook hands and I asked her if she would sign my album cover. She smiled ever so nicely at me which caused me to tell her how much "Strange Company" had meant to me in my life at the time it came out. She seemed to enjoy the compliments and signed my album, "To Tom, thanks for all the years".
Very cool :-) We talked for a couple more minutes about the show and the Wheatland Music Festival in Remus in September that I'd just found out about the day before.....September 6th and 7th the Refugees will be there and lord willin' I will be too. It's a two day acoustic outdoor music festival and sounds like a good time.
After another old guy came up to Wendy we said our goodbyes and Wanda went outside while I went over and talked to Cindy for a couple minutes. She signed the album for me and asked what I thought of the band, I tried to give a good review without sounding too corny. After a couple minutes I said goodbye and we headed for the car and the long trip back home. We pulled out of the parking lot at 10:45 and pulled in the driveway right about 1am.
For folks who'd like to hear what the Refugee's sound like I was able to find 2 YouTube videos that don't do a bad job of getting the point across. You can also check out these links and buy some of these great ladies solo albums. I can't imagine you'd be disappointed. Keep an eye out for the Refugee's 1st album which is due out later this summer.

Fishin' In The Dark by Wendy Waldman

The Violin Song By Deborah Holland