Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Here's some pictures from the Starship concert in Northampton Sunday. My camera computer cable has still not been returned, so all the following snaps are by renouned photo/videographer Jeff Ziff, who I happened to run into at the show. Frankly, I'm terrible as a coverer of concerts anyway, since I always get distracted by the music into a non-journalist mode and at best return with just a few blurry shots and a snippet of crappy video. With Jeff Ziff we can maintain higher standards.
The concert did not sell that well, largely I suspect because of poor promotion. Here in Happy Valley, where many people's clocks froze permanently sometime in 1969, this should have been the concert event of the summer. However, early advertisements failed to tell when and where the concert was being held, while a computer glitch caused some who called to inquire about tickets to be told that the concert was sold out. Still what the audience lacked in size it more than made up for in enthusiasm.
A great band I was introduced to at the concert was a folk duo called The Kind Buds. They were absolutely fantastic guitar pickers and played with lots of enthusiasm. They're from Vermont, but let's hope we see a lot more of them in these parts.
Among those serving as master of ceremonies were a couple of crazy jocks from WCCC who appeared attired as a priest and nun. Their routine was pretty blasphemous, but also pretty funny. Onstage with them is The Outer Space Band.
A great group out of Cleveland that I never heard of before is the Johnny Philko Band. From what I could hear during their brief set, they deserve a national following.
Unlike some social movements of the 1960's, the psychedelic scene was never anti-American, and people like the Merry Pranksters and the Grateful Dead were always proud flagwavers. It was appropriate then that a portion of the proceeds from the show were given to local veterans. Event organizer Dave Mech (left) is shown below with the Northampton Veteran Affairs head, whose name I didn't catch.
In a scene as moving as any of the music, a check was handed to disabled Sgt. Mark W. Ecker II of East Longmeadow, who recently returned from Iraq without his legs. Yet in his Guns and Roses t-shirt the local hero was much more into rock and rolling than self-pity, of which he showed none. Instead he really made everyone feel proud of the troops.
Next up was Tom Constantin, a former keyboard player for the Grateful Dead (he was on the original version of Dark Star) who played a spacey and melodic set.
One of the best received bands turned out to be one of the most obscure - the long disbanded It's a Beautiful Day of San Francisco, which only recently reunited with its few surviving members. But violin virtuoso David LaFlamme set the stage on fire with his blazing riffs.
Big Brother and the Holding Company was great, but I'm withholding photos and commentary about them because of something unexpectedly special that happened which I will explain in a future post. Next up was the legendary Quicksilver Messenger Service, which put in a fantastic set despite the fact that only two of their members are still living. One of them is Gary Duncan.
The other surviving member is David Freiberg, who because of his musical history was forced to perform in two bands. After Quicksilver disbanded in 1972, Freiberg joined the Jefferson Airplane, meaning he had to play with both groups on Sunday. He didn't seem to mind at all.
At last the Jefferson Starship came on. They were absolutely great, but stuck very close to their top ten hits. At some points I thought I was listening to a really loud radio station! Paul Kantner seemed a bit on the high side, at times just sitting on an amp and staring into space while the rest of the band played.
Maybe the problem was that Kantner has never been particularly fond of the band's more commercial efforts. However, when it came time for him to sing his own songs he did so with enthusiasm.
As for the big hits, Marty Balin can still deliver them with perfect style.
Diana Manango does a good job filling in the vocal harmonies once done by Grace Slick. Diana is shown here with David Friberg.
Here's a photo of the whole band, left to right: Paul Kantner, Christopher Smith, Diana Manango, David Freiberg, Marty Balin and Slick Angulara. Not shown is Donny Baldwin on drums.
So shame on you if you missed this great opportunity to listen to these legends while simultaneously supporting the troops. I have a few more photos that I took which I'll share with you as soon as I get that damn cord. Ziff will also have videos up soon, and I will alert you when he does.