We see musicians come and go throughout the decades. Sure, there are a handful of artists that survive the changes in culture and keep a loyal following. But those artists are few and far between. Yet Weird Al Yankovic hit the scene in 1976, after handing a recording to Dr. Demento, and has been a staple of pop culture ever since.
I had the chance to talk with Weird Al about his “Alpocalypse” tour, which comes to St. Louis on April 19th at the Family Arena, as well as about his career in music, movies, television and more.
Kevin: I’ve been a big fan of yours since I listened to my first Weird Al CD, “Bad Hair Day.”
Weird Al: Well thank you! No kidding, that’s awesome.
I saw you back in 2011 at the Family arena, and you put on one hell of a show. Are you changing up anything for the Alpocalypse tour since the last time you came to town?
No, it’s the same tour. I’m working on new songs, but they won’t be in the show. I am working on the new album – I’ve got a couple of originals in the can that I’m writing and recording soon. The parodies I’ll probably do later this year. No idea when the new album is coming out, but hopefully sometime in the next 30 or 40 years.
So I take it you are keeping the new songs under wraps?
Yeah, I found that’s the best way. If I give any hints, the fans are tenacious about it and build up in their own minds, “Oh, I bet it’s gonna be like this.” And when it winds up not being exactly what they hand in mind, they’re disappointed. So I found that kind of not saying anything is the best policy.
As a Bon Jovi fan, I may be a bit biased in my review, but you have to understand that if it wasn’t for Jon and his band, I would never have gotten into rock music. Growing up, all I was subjected to was country music. I can still remember being 6 years-old and hearing “Living on a Prayer” for the first time. I was hooked for the start.
As Bon Jovi descended upon the Scottrade Center on Wednesday night, the band was celebrating the release of their new album “What About Now”. Jon and the boys played a spirited 2+ hour set, filled with classics like “Bad Medicine,” as well as new sure-to-be hits like, “Because We Can.”
The world-renowned musical ensemble “Celtic Thunder” will return to the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis on November 8! Tickets are on sale now at MetroTix or call 314-534-1111 (starting at $45).
We had the chance to speak with George Donaldson, vocalist and sole Scotsman of the show. Here is George’s bio:
Born and raised in Scotland and a bus builder by trade, George Donaldson is the Scot in Celtic Thunder. He is a self-taught and accomplished musician, who has mastered guitar and flute and is currently being taught to play the fiddle by his daughter Sarah. George’s love of Celtic music stems from his childhood in Glasgow, where his main influence was his late father Bernard, who had a love and appreciation of all kinds of live music. One of George’s greatest thrills was performing for his Dad and 65,000 other fans at the Glasgow Celtics opening match of the 2000 season at Celtic Park in Glasgow. Now at 42 years of age, George is a well-established singer in the vibrant Glasgow and West of Scotland Folk scene, and he released his first solo CD in 2011 entitled ‘The White Rose’. George was also nominated for an Irish Music award in 2011. His musical influences are Harry Chapin and Jim Croce, and the Scottish group The Proclaimers. George has recorded folk sessions for BBC Scotland and has made appearances at Glasgow’s own Celtic Connections and the Glasgow West End Festival.
My first performance to review for the new season was a real treat! The Saint Louis Symphony decided to take on Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 3 in D Minor” (performed without intermission). Clocking in at around and hour and forty minutes, it is Mahler’s longest written piece. Filling the conductor’s position was David Robertson, in his 8th season with the St. Louis Symphony.
True to his reputation, Robertson’s musical direction was captivating throughout the performance. Maintaining the integrity of the original piece while still bringing his particular sense of adventure he is so well known and admired for.
Having done a bit of research on Mahler’s “Symphony No. 3”, I knew that the premise of the composition was trying to capture aspects of the natural world. In scope, he intends to depict ‘nature in its totality’, by means of meadow flowers, forest creatures, humans, angels and love. What I heard was dramatically much more. I heard the very beginning of life – from the creation and evolution of the universe throughout time — up to and through the present day.
It starts with a very ominous brass section conjuring up images of all the matter in the universe colliding, then slowing and turning into a sporadic march. The low end strings (cello and double bass) abruptly entering with a very deep and foreboding rumble. Playing off of each other, the brass and strings seem to be fighting for dominance. Finally a break –the flutes and woodwinds bring in what sounds to be the song of new life — spring. Mahler’s genius shines through here as the brass section turns more playful and triumphant while the strings swing and sway over different solo instruments depicting new growth.
At the end of the first movement there was a slight pause to let the women’s choir take the stage. A few over eager concert goers started in with precarious applause, thinking it was the end of the piece. Symphony Conductor Robertson casually turned to say “it’s okay” motivating broad smiles all around — giving some viewers a chuckle and a break from the intensity of the performance.
The second performance started off very pleasantly and gave me images of simple living, natural harmony and lazy days spent whiling away the hours between naps and the next sleep. This feeling continued through the third movement, adding somewhat moody parts foreshadowing a more brooding fourth section.
At this point, mezzo-soprano, Susan Graham took the stage and a very luxurious, royal red dress. The symphony musicians led her into a very somber and striking performance. As obvious as it might be, these were the first words sung of the night, and to me, represented the beginning of human life in the timeline of creation. With english translation on the wall it gave the audience a glimpse of humankind’s tendency to poeticize our surroundings. The words gave mention to heartache, pain and joy all while the symphony played somber, more introspective music.
I was starting to find myself in a quiet calm – almost approaching sleepiness — lost in the mellow melancholic music being lifted through my ears when, seemingly out of nowhere, the children’s choir rang out behind me. David Robertson turned to command this new section, leading them in a repetitive “Bim-Bom” which was meant to sound like bells while the female choir chimed in as well. For me, life (Spring) had finally sprung and blossomed. After a while, I turned to notice the children’s choir shuffling away just as silently as they had come in.
The singing ceased for the final movement. All of the parts seem to come together now, in unison. Where once they were fighting for dominance, there was now a harmony about it. What started out as a lament slowly grew into a forceful celebration of the beauty and wonder of our natural world. The swell of the melody players was driven by the percussion section — with booming timpani bringing the sound to a very triumphant climax.
I was left in awe of what I had just heard and seen — feeling fortunate to have had the opportunity to see this rare performance done extremely well by our local St. Louis Symphony. Don’t miss your opportunity to see them play this season. You won’t regret it.
Check out upcoming performance dates and purchase tickets here:
Finally! Symphony season is upon us. as such, I’d like to give a brief recap of last seasons finale…
Let me start by admitting that I am no veteran of attending symphony performances or even listening to classical composition. While I’ve always appreciated the form and style, I never caught the bug, so to speak, and so I went to this concert with very green, but open ears.
Upon arrival I read through the performance notes and saw that there had been an emergency stand in for the scheduled conductor, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos. Filling in on short notice was Toronto born conductor, Peter Oundjian. Peter began his relationship with the St. Louis Symphony in 1998 when he stepped in — again on short notice — and has been returning annually ever since. It was obvious there was a connection by observing how well he engaged with the players with such little ambivalence. Good and great conductors learn to mesh well with their orchestras and inspire their best performance or they fall from their perch or maestro