Emily Wells at the Beachland Ballroom | Cleveland OH May 5, 2013

IMG_2643bEmily Wells is one of those people who inherently possesses a larger-than-life presence. Even when quietly slipping into the corners of the Beachland Tavern to catch a bit of her opening act this magnetism is apparent.

I first saw Wells perform in the fall of 2009 when Ady and I traveled to NYC to catch a show where she opened for Joseph Arthur at City Winery. It was the first we had heard of her, but within minutes of her taking the stage, the audience was transfixed.

The same occurred last Sunday night (5-5-2013) at the Beachland. Wells took the stage and began by telling her cozy and obviously very dedicated audience the answer to “why did she decide to come to the Midwest?” was “for each one of you.” She opened her set with deceptive tranquility, something akin to the maneuverings of a snake charmer, quickly hypnotizing the crowd into forming a tight semi-circle around the stage as she built her songs layer-upon-layer, looping her voice, a violin, synthesizer and melodica. And, just to be sure there wasn’t a stray person that was not fully engrossed, she commanded full attention by suddenly introducing a thundering tribal drum beat.

As the evening went on she slid easily from genre to genre—gospel; an “impersonation of [herself] doing trance;” the southern spiritual-esque “Mama’s Gonna Give you Love” from her most recent album, Mama; an acoustic cover of one of her own songs that will appear on her “recently and accidentally recorded” spinoff album Mama Acoustic Versions (during which she donned a cowboy hat and a fake twang with a smile, adding that she sometimes likes to roll into town like that for self-entertainment); the violin-hip hop stylings of her 2008 album Symphonies —in the same slick way as she transitioned from instrument to instrument.

As a performer one gets the sense that, eyes closed and arms outstretched, Wells is singing to no one, to herself, to the skies, and to each and every person in the audience, all at the same time, adding an even greater emotional depth to her music. Live, she takes her vast catalogue of recordings to another, heightened level revealing the full scope of her genius talent.

Her tour continues into August 2013.

05.13.13 Natasha’s Bistro Lexington, KY
05.16.13 Iota Club & Cafe Arlington , VA
05.17.13 Historic Blairstown Theater Blairstown, NJ
06.13.13 The Echo Los Angeles, CA
06.14.13 The Chapel San Francisco, CA, US
06.15.13 Benefit Concert for Trek For a Cure /Plainfield Station Davis, CA
06.19.13 The Crocodile Seattle, WA, US
06.20.13 Doug Fir Portland, OR, US
06.21.13 Hi-Dive Denver, CO, US
07.26.13 Lincoln Center Out of Doors New York City, NY w/My Brightest Diamond, Kronos Quartet
08.08.13 Michigan Womyn’s Festival Hart, MI, US

Emily Wells opening for Joseph Arthur at City Winery NYC Sept 2009

Emily Wells opening for Joseph Arthur at City Winery NYC Sept 2009

Emily Wells on stage with Joseph Arthur, Sept 2009

Emily Wells on stage with Joseph Arthur, Sept 2009

Red Hot Chili Peppers at the House of Blues Cleveland

The scene downtown last Sunday was vibrant and buzzing in anticipation of the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing their free show in support of the Obama campaign. T’was a family affair as I attended with family and loved ones, including Ella and Ava (pictured, at their very first big concert experience). We all were treated to box seats thanks to a very generous friend, so the vantage point of the stage and show was free and clear and resulted in a few photos and a great video —admittedly slightly imperfect audio due to proximity to amps—of second song “Dani California” from the short and sweet 6 song (plus encore) set.

The energy level at the early hour of 1 o’clock in the afternoon (a disorienting time to be in full live show mode but I liked it) was as high, if not higher than any other Chili Peppers shows I’ve been to. And I walked away once again wishing that bottled essence of Flea-energy Juice was on the market. (Speaking of, Rocket Juice, anyone?)

Thanks to the mind behind Offmyeffingmeds who was in our entourage and took over review duties for the day (check his hilarious no holds barred social commentary blog and twitter account, I command you!).

Red Hot Chili Peppers live at House of Blues
{MORE PHOTOS via Flickr here}
Review from Offmyeffingmeds (via twitter:@offmyeffingmeds)

Catching the Red Hot Chili Peppers yesterday at the House of Blues was just too fucking cool! You’d have difficulty imagining a better way to spend Julian Easter. (I’m thinking Jesus would actually have to show up for the party.)

Anyway, warm temperatures and the early-afternoon performance only fed the surrealistic atmosphere. We got an invitation at 10:30 am, while we were still abed. The ensuing explosion of activity probably damaged the last (very small) shred of sanity our cat possessed.

We were presentable and out of the house soon thereafter, cursing drivers who had apparently received instructions to use any means necessary to delay us. Nobody drove no more than 15 mph below the speed limit. Their efforts failed, though. We reached downtown Cleveland in plenty of time to join the party on Euclid Avenue.

1,200 Obama workers had worked for free tickets to the show. All of them turned up.

After running a couple videos that highlighted the President’s achievements, his national campaign manager introduced the band, and urged the audience to consider why a world-class outfit like RHCP would sacrifice time and sleep to help inject political volunteers with a bit of energy. (You should do the same.)

The House of Blues is not a concert venue…it’s a large saloon. Being locked down in a room of that size with the Chilis is like Talking Heads’ “Heaven,” without the irony. It’s perfect. The band jumped into ”Can’t Stop” and didn’t waste a second of the next 45 minutes. Energy was not a problem.

Chad Smith is simply an amazing drummer, both visually and aurally, and tossed at minimum a dozen sticks to the fans and no one worried about losing an eye. Josh Klinghoffer seems to have been bred to play guitar for the band. He’s got the swag and the chops cold…and merits at least a 9.2 for floor exercises! Flea and Anthony, the over-amped heart of the Chilis, did what they always do: brought the funk and never let up.

“Dani Cali,” “Look Around,” and “Rain Dance Maggie,” followed and then everybody caught their breath during “Under the Bridge.” Two more songs and it was over.

We felt the longing of Mother Teresa: God spoke to her once at an early age and then abandoned her for the rest of her life. Leaving her with one powerful hunger.

Thanks once again to everyone who got us there!

Drake Bell live at The Grog Shop Cleveland Heights, Ohio (photo set)



The ever expanding saga of Two Sisters and a Show, this time with a twist. It’s . . . two sisters and two daughters/nieces, and two sons/nephews in tow! The six of us had a great evening starting at the essential Tommy’s restaurant on Coventry (Brownie Monster!), followed by the much looked forward to 30 minute getting-lost-amongst-delightfully-bizarre-treasures session in Big Fun.

It was then time to make our way to The Grog Shop to top off the evening with a truly enjoyable acoustic set by Drake Bell. The kids were at full attention as that oh so familiar face—which over the years they have come to know via his comedic side as well as his music—arrived on stage, accompanied by another guitarist, Andy Alt, and Will Herrington on keys.

The audience demographic was wildly and nicely varied and Bell showed his musical chops via his own songwriting as well as giving us an accomplished tribute to the Beatles as he covered of a portion of the Abbey Road medley (Mean Mr. Mustard/Polyethene Pam/She Came in Through the Bathroom Window/Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight), and a very beautiful solo version of “Blackbird.” It was great to see our kids get excited by the covers (they are well versed already!), and for those in the audience not yet familiar, Bell did a great job presenting such a unique yet classic representation of the Beatles that will hopefully broaden the musical horizons of the younger set in the audience.

Ady and I are both excited to have been able to introduce the kids to the world of live music via an artist that is genuine, talented and incredibly gracious, and to watch them be as inspired by music as much as we are. Music heads in the making.

View the full Drake Bell live at The Grog Shop Cleveland Heights, Ohio photo set on Flickr

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