May 26, 2013

Concert Review: Chicago @ Westbury Theater- Long Island, NY 5/25/13

centerfieldmaz concert review-Chicago @Westbury 2013
Once again the band Chicago put on another incredible performance last night at the Westbury Theater on Long Island. It was the first of two nights at that venue. Westbury is a classic theater in the round with a slow rotating stage & every seat is a good one. It's a popular venue for Chicago since they have been doing it annually over the past few years.

Robert Lamm "Saturday In the Park"

Chicago, were established in 1967 in (of course) Chicago Illinois. They have become one of the most successful American rock & roll bands of all time with a tremendous following. In the U.S they have 22 gold- 18 platinum, and 8 multi-platinum albums. They've had five number-one albums and 21 top-ten singles.

Four original members remain: Keyboardist/ singer/ songwriter: Robert Lamm - Saxophone-flute player: Walter Parazaider - Trumpet / singer/ song writer: Lee Loughnane & Trombone/ brass arranger/ songwriter/ singer: Jimmy Pankow.

On stage these guys are professional, tight & are having a real good time, singing & laughing amongst themselves during songs. They are very respectful & thankful to their fans as well, as they mention during the show.

Jimmy Pankow
Other members include Bassist/ singer: Jason Scheff (since 1985) who is the son of Elvis' Presley's 1970's touring band bass player Jerry Scheff. Jerry also played bass on the Doors L.A. Woman album.

Drums: Tris Imboden (1990). Guitar: Keith Howland  (1995) & keyboardist/ singer: Lou Bardini (2009)- Percussion: Walfredo Reyes Jr. (2012).

Chicago were great once again, pleasing the crowd which covered many different generations. In my opinion it was one of the best set lists I have seen the band do, covering their entire career.

Special treats (besides the biggies) for me were; the entire Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon from their second album & Street Player. Robert Lamm's version of Rainy Day In New York City (sans horns & drums) was another big highlight.

The band encouraged picture taking & with my sixth row seat I took advantage of the offer. So without a lengthy review; here's the set list & all pictures taken by centerfieldmaz.

The Classic Chicago Horn Section
"Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?- Does Anybody Really Care"
Chicago Set List 
Lee Loughnane
Questions 67 & 68
Dialogue (Part 1 & 2)
Alive Again
If You Leave Me
Now Call on Me
(I've Been) Searchin' So Long
Will You Still Love Me?
Another Rainy Day in New York City
Look Away
Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon :
 Make Me Smile
 So Much To Say So Much To Give
 Moment West Virginia Fantasies
 Colour My World
 To Be Free
 Now More Than Ever



Old Days
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
Hard Habit to Break
You're the Inspiration
I'm a Man
Street Player
Just You 'n' Me
Saturday in the Park
Hard to Say I'm Sorry/Get Away
Feelin' Stronger Every Day
25 or 6 to 4
Robert Lamm on "Beginnings"
Walter Parazaider Flute on "Colour My World"
Robert Lamm "Another Rainy Day In New York City"
Jason Scheff "Questions 67 & 68"
Pankow & Lamm
Chicago 2013 Tour
Pankow "let me hear you"

May 20, 2013

Remembering The Doors Ray Manzarek (1939-2013)

                    "when the music's over............"

This is a sad day as Ray Manzarek of the Doors has passed away from complications of bile duct cancer in Germany. Manzarek was 74 years old. He is survived by his wife of forty years Dorothy, a son & three grand children.

Raymond Daniel Manzarek was born on February 12th 1939, in the south side of Chicago. He originally wanted to play basketball but only in the forward position. In high school when he was told he had to play at guard or not at all, he quit the team. He later claimed there would have been no Doors if not given that ultimatum.

Manzarek took piano lessons as a boy & later was in some local bands with his two brothers, most notably Ray & the Ravens.

Manzarek attended DePaul University, earning a degree in economics. He then went West, to UCLA Film school in the Department of Cinematography & his life changed. There he met Dorothy Fujikawa whom he would eventually marry & be with the rest of his life.

It was also there, he first met Jim Morrison. A month after classes had ended, Ray was meditating on Venice Beach. Jim Morrison whom, Ray thought had gone to New York, came walking up the beach. The two began to talk about what they had been up to & Morrison said he had written some songs. When he sang what was to be Moonlight Drive: "Lets swim to the Moon, Lets climb through the tide" to Manzarek, he said said lets start a rock band. The Doors were born.

Through Manzarek's  meditation classes came drummer John Densmore & guitarist Robbie Krieger. The band soon practiced at a beach house, rented by Manzarek on Venice Beach. Their first gig was on the Sunset Strip at a low keyed club called the London Fog. Manzarek has said, it was there that the band perfected the Doors sound, since no one was in the audience.

Soon, the band were booked at The Whiskey A Go-Go, the main club on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. The Doors shows became legendary, as did their dark, erotic, mysterious music with the outrageous lyrics.

Ray Manzarek was the bands keyboard / piano player. His Vox Continental organ, was his signature sound for the Doors music & probably the most distinct instrument of the three. The band had no steady bass player & most bass parts, were played by Manzarek on his fender Rhodes piano. He would play bass parts with his left hand or on foot pedals. Ray Manzarek was an incredible musician. Together with Densmore's jazz/rock drumming & Krieger's flamenco/rock n roll style of guitar playing, the Doors were the perfect backdrop to front man Jim Morrison's words.

The Doors success began with their self titled first album in 1967. They were the first band to have a billboard to promote their album. It reached #2 on the charts & has gone five times platinum since. It was the first in their string of seven top ten albums as a band.

Their third album Waiting For the Sun, reached number one in 1968 & has been certified platinum since. All six original Doors studio albums have gone platinum as well. Four of their live albums have also gone Gold. Their last album; L.A. Woman, has been certified two times platinum. on it's own. All in all, The Doors have sold over 100 million records & still sell over one million records a year.

The Doors have become one of the most successful rock bands of all time, finding a new popularity with every generation since the sixties.

(this is a tribute to Ray Manzarek- so I'll keep the Doors & Morrison history brief)

As for Manzarek as a singer, he would occasionally if the dark side of Jim Morrison showed up (which Ray called Jimbo) & was unable to out on stage. Manzarek sang lead vocal on the Doors song  Close To You, from Absolutely Live (1970). He also sang lead on Love Her Madly's B-side- You Need Meat (Don't Go No Further).

After the death of Jim Morrison in 1971, the three remaining Doors released Other Voices & Full Circle in which Manzarek did some more vocals. Since then, he has played with Nite City, Philip Glass, X, Echo & the Bunneymen, Iggy Pop as well as backing beat poet; Michael McClure.

Manzarek reunited with the Doors Robbie Krieger in the 21st Century Doors (2002) & Manzarek-Krieger since 2003.

Manzarek has helped keep the Doors legacy alive with his great story telling in interviews, his book Light My Fire (My Life With The Doors) and the collaboration of post Doors musical releases. These include the Bright Midnight Concert Series', The Doors Box sets & the When Your Strange movie/album in 2009. Manzarek was very outspoken & critical of the Doors 1991 Oliver Stone movie.

Quotes: Manzarek told Rolling Stone in 2006: "Morrison required all three of us diving into his lyrics and creating music that would swirl around him. Without Jim, everybody started shooting off in different directions. The Doors was the perfect mixture of four guys, four egos that balanced each other. But after Jim died the whole dynamic was screwed up, because the fourth guy wasn't there."

In July 1981, on the tenth Anniversary of Jim Morrison's death, the surviving Doors visited the gravesite together. In 2011 on the 40th anniversary of Jim's death, Manzarek & Krieger revisited Jim's grave once again.

Manzarek continued to live in Hollywood for most of his post Doors life. More recently he had moved North, to Napa Valley.

Doors' guitarist Robby Krieger released a statement saying, "I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and band mate Ray Manzarek. I'm just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him."

          "music is your only friend, until the end......"

May 3, 2013

Remembering the 1973 Mets: Tom Seaver K's 13 Reds In A Losing Effort

This is another post honoring the 40th Anniversary of the 1973 N.L. Champion New York Mets team.

On Wednesday May 2nd, 1973; the New York Mets hosted the Cincinnati Reds in what was an early preview of that seasons NLCS showdown. As so many other things early on for the New York Mets today did not go well, although Tom Seaver did go to the mound & struck out 13 Reds.
In the top of the 4th inning, Seaver already had five strike outs including Pete Rose & Dave Concepcion looking. But in this inning Concepcion doubled to centerfield scoring Tony Perez for the first run.

Seaver returned to strike out the side in the 5th & 6th innings, although he did serve up a HR to the light hitting Concepcion. (Concepcion had eight HRs on the '73 season).

With the exception of that HR, Seaver had managed to strike out eight batters in a row. But in the 7th, he gave up a single to the pitcher Ross Grimsley & then a two run HR to Pete Rose. Seaver would take the loss, even though he had struck out 13 batters through seven innings.

As the Mets would only score one run against Grimsley & reliever Pedro Borbon who came on in the 8th. The lone Mets run was driven in by Teddy Martinez (usually an infielder) who was playing left field on this day.

Seaver finished the night at 2-3 with a 1.71 ERA with 43 strike outs through six starts (47 innings). Of course Seaver was on his way to his second Cy Young that season, leading his Mets to the World Series. 

Grimsley was 4-1 amongst the NL leaders in victories at that point, he would finish at 13-10.

It would be his last year as a Red as he would go onto win 18 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 1974. It would also be early in his career when he had short hair before letting his locks grow to one of the best hair do's of the decade. In 1978 he would be a twenty game winner for the Montreal Expos (20-11).

May 2, 2013

Italian / American Father & Son Umpires: Lou DiMuro (1963-1982) & Mike DiMuro (1999-)

Louis John DiMuro was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 24, 1931. He went to high school in Jersey City, New Jersey then served in the Air Force where he broke a finger ending his baseball playing days. 

DiMuro then went to Umpire school and made his way to the Major Leagues by 1963. DiMuro lived in Floral Park , New York on the Queens / Long Island border in the sixties before moving to western edge of New York State, at Westfield, New York- “the grape juice capitol of the world”.

Some of his most notable games behind the plate were the 1965 & 1967 All Star Games. In 1969 he called Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmers no hitter.

DiMuro did his first World Series in 1969 & was the home plate umpire for Game #5 at Shea Stadium as the Amazing Mets won the worlds championship. Earlier in the game Baltimore's Frank Robinson claimed he had been hit by a pitch & argued he should be awarded first base. DiMuro disagreed.

In the 6th inning the Mets' Cleon Jones claimed he was hit in the foot by a pitch that had bounced off his foot. Mets manager Gil Hodges then came out of the dugout showing Umpire DiMuro, a ball with shoe polish smudged on it. Hodges claimed it was the ball that hit Jones' shoe, DiMuro agreed & awarded him first base.

Orioles manager Earl Weaver came out to argue, but DiMuro reminded him to be careful since he had been ejected from Game #4. The next Mets batter Donn Clendenon hit a two run HR bringing New York within a run. The rest is Mets history.

DiMuro went on to umpire in the 1976 World Series as the Big Red Machine swept the AL New York team, as well as doing ALCS in 1971, 1975 & 1978. He was one of the last umps to use the famous outside chest protector behind the plate. DiMuro was slowed down by a hip problem but refused to retire in the early 1980s.

Tragedy: In 1982 after calling a game between the Texas Rangers & Chicago White Sox in Arlington, he went out to dinner with Seattle Mariners manager Darrell Johnson, who also managed the 1975 AL Champion Boston Red Sox.

After choosing to walk back to the hotel DiMuro was struck by a car and passed away two hours later in an Arlington hospital, he was 51 years old. He is buried in Tucson Arizona, where had lived since 1976.

Family: DiMuro had five children, two who also became umpires. His son Mike DiMuro has been an MLB umpire since 1999.

Michael Ryan DiMuro was born on October 12th 1967 in Dunkirk, New York. He followed in his Dad's footsteps becoming a professional baseball umpire.

He worked in the Arizona League (1991) California League (1992) Texas League (1993-1994) American Association (1995) & Pacific Coast League (1996-1998).

He then became the first American Umpire to work in Japan's Baseball League in 1999. But he left after finding out how umpires are not respected in Japan, when he ejected a player from a game & had the whole team surround him yelling & shoving him.

Mike DiMuro joined the Major Leagues in 1999. He worked two Division Series (2000 & 2010) as well as the 2005 All Star Game in Houston, Texas. On May 29th, 2010 he was behind the plate for Roy Halladay's perfect game, joining two other sets of father / son umpires to have worked behind the plate for no hitters.