I first saw Leon Russell in 1972. He appeared in a movie.
Just months before, ex-Beatle George Harrison had organized the first-ever rock n’ roll charity benefit concert. The all-star gala was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City and featured a virtual “who’s who” of 1970’s pop scene. George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, even Bob Dylan showed up after a long self-imposed hiatus, making his first live concert appearance in five years.
But the unlikely star of the evening, who ended up stealing a show, tuned out to be the pianist — a tall and lankly, stringy-haired, graveyard-voiced punch-the-time clock session player named Leon Russell.
Most of us had never heard the name Leon Russell until that epic concert. Later, the Concert for Bangladesh was wrapped up and packaged into a 3-hour mega-movie and also released as a triple-album, unheard of in that time. [The Concert for Bangladesh is a remarkable story in its own — read more HERE].
Joe Giron might be the hardest-working man in poker that few people ever see. That’s because he’s always “behind the camera” — literally.
He’s been covering poker’s biggest events for more than a decade, spending night and day staking out the tables to find the perfect shot to capture that glorious moment of ecstasy or the agony of crushing disappointment. Getting that perfect image within the frame of the lens might take minutes or hours to set up. Like a hunter seeking its prey. Giron waits. He waits as long as it takes. Then, he pounces and snaps an image for posterity at just the right instant.
I’m fascinated by the creative process. Watching unfiltered talent in the raw and witnessing art evolve can be far more intriguing than sampling the perfectly-polished end product. Sometimes, it’s just as interesting to watch the baker at work than to taste the cake.
Sir George Martin baked up and frosted as many rock n’ roll masterpieces as anyone else during the 1960’s, and that’s quite a statement given what a creative period that was in popular music. As the longtime producer for The Beatles, Martin consistently infused the group with new sounds and unprecedented methods of instrumentation which had never been used before by pop musicians. Some of the techniques would have been unthinkable were it not for The Beatles’ own curiosities matched with Martin as the perfect tutor of influence. The lanky and straight-laced Martin looked more like a barrister than the megaphone for the counterculture. Martin consistently pushed the Fab Four to new creative heights, obliterating old precedent with each new album release, which sometimes mystified the groups fans and risked proven commercial formulas.
If you were around last year at this time, you witnessed one of the most impressive instances of special events handicapping in quite some time.
Matt Lessinger, who has appeared here frequently as my guest on this site (usually giving out picks on boxing, Mixed-Martial Arts, Oscars, Grammys), successfully rattled off an astoundingly perfect night at the 2015 Grammy Awards, picking several winners including a 10-1 shot as “Album of the Year.” That’s as amazing a feat as you will see on a public forum and is far better analysis than anything which appears on the conventional entertainment programs which tout “expert advice.” This is just one reason Lessinger appeared on National Public Radio (NPR) a few years ago, evaluating all the major categories.
“I’m an introvert in a business of extroverts….which is kinda’ a big problem.”
— Van Morrison
Van Morrison’s concert on the night of January 15th, 2016 at the famed Shrine Auditorium on the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles was terrible. And, I loved every single note of it.