Friday, January 31, 2014

Los Lobos In Mankato: The Pre "Winter Dance Party" Dance Party Lives Up to the Hype

Life can sometimes be a let down.  The more we build something up in our minds the more likely that the thing will not live up to expectations and then life hands you a let down.  There was no letting down at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato last night.  Certainly not the band, who had plenty of reasons why they could have let down.  The members of the band had played a gig in California the night before, hopped on a plane and came to Minnesota in the aftermath of a blizzard only to play a room which at first blush had all the hallmarks of a wedding reception venue, because that is what it was.  

It would have been so easy for the band or road manager to breeze into the venue take a quick look around and sneer "Los Lobos stopped playing rooms of this caliber 30 years ago" and skated right back out the door and took a night off to rest up for the Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom just over the border in Iowa the following night.  As an alternative, the band could have easily phoned in a performance, played a 60 minute set and wrapped up early without even breaking a sweat.  But that isn't who these guys are.

Certainly not singer/guitarist David Hidalgo who not only broke a sweat from the opening strains of "Dream in Blue" but was red hot all night long with some of the finest, most interesting guitar riffs with coolest tone that made even familiar material seem completely fresh.  David was so hot in fact last night that he had to implore the local crew running the lights (way over sized lighting system for a room that size) to scale it back, turn the damn lights down before we witnessed roasted wolf right before our eyes.  David's slow burn on Little Things was one of the nights most mesmerizing moments but there were so many.

The Afro Cuban sax of Steve Berlin (whose importance to this band's sound cannot be underestimated) on tunes like La Venganza de los Pelados complete with sole woman dancer doing the samba in front of Cesar (who applauded her at the end of the song) and one of my and the crowd's favorites "Chuco's Cumbia" with Cesar's too cool Spanish phrasing.  Cesar was in fine form and in even better spirits revving the crowd up with his rockers like "Set Me Free Rosalee" and "Don't worry Baby".  Cesar's mood was most likely due in part to the number of female fans who surrounded him most of the night.

I honestly have never seen a band having so much fun with an audience.  The person looking to be having the best time all night was the ever affable Conrad Lozan always rock steady on bass and whose co lead vocals on "How Will the Wolf Survive" was another crowd favorite.  If I am not mistaken the band played the guitar heavy instrumental Minnesota Medley from the movie Feeling Minnesota or maybe that was the beer and cigars talking.

I would be amiss if I did not note the stellar drumming of "Bugs" Gonzales all evening who was hitting his kit like a young Hector Munoz.  Last but not least Renaissance Man Louie Perez, the multi-talented former drummer now third guitarist, writer, artist and playwright held down rhythm guitar duties as well as being the emotional balance to Conrad.

Before coming back for an absolutely bring down the house version of Bertha as the finale with half the audience joining them onstage, the band did a swamped up version of Buddy Hollie's "Not Fade Away" that would have made my old acquaintance Elias McDaniel very proud.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hoping neither snow nor sleet nor cold nor lack of nightlife stays from making their show tomorrow night in at Wireless Center.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

MPR Owes Father Shelley and their Listeners an Apology for Shoddy, Sensationlist Journalism

Stating "Everyone who's looked at it says there's no child pornography on those disks," Washington County Attorney Peter Orput announced today "We've declined to prosecute the case, as there's no criminal evidence we can find."  This has to come as a devastating blow to MPR "reporters" Laura Yuen and Madeleine Baran who openly lobbied and advocated for the investigation and then reinvestigation of Father Shelley. Yet despite investigations by police investigators, the Justice Department's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and county prosecutors, " there's no criminal evidence we can find".

"There's no criminal evidence we can find"  is a far cry from the biased and libelous reporting of MPR which reported today on its website that "...there was insufficient evidence on the disks to warrant criminal charges against Shelley".  I am so disgusted with MPR's conduct with respect to its slander by innuendo coverage on Father Shelley that I ceased to be a member of Minnesota Public Radio and it can say goodbye to my formerly annual contributions and along with it my employers matching contributions.

Unfortunately for Father Shelley the damage is done, they have destroyed a good man's reputation and for what?  So a couple of out of control "journalists" could cross the line from fair and independent journalism into sensationalistic advocacy in their crusade against the Catholic Church regardless of whose life is destroyed along the way?  Responsible journalism?  I think not.  More like guilt by association.

Don't get me wrong, I am no fan, let along apologist for the Catholic Church.  As a life long Lutheran who was deeply troubled by the rapprochement between the major branches of the Lutheran religion and the Roman Catholic Church a few years back, I remain defiantly anti-organized religion. To paraphrase Will Rogers: "I am not a member of any organized religion. I am a Lutheran."  I can now add to that "I am not a member of MPR".

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oklahoma About to Get Schooled in Constitutional Law, Again!

I love Oklahomans.  Kind, earnest, hard working and friendly to a fault (just try driving any rural highway in the state and 7 out of 10 vehicles you meet, the driver will lift his hand off the wheel in the official  Okie salute hand wave).  Their politics is a whole 'nother story.

There are some things however, that Oklahomans are not.  Chief among the things they are not would have to be constitutional scholars.  For a state that prides itself on being all things Amerikan (Toby Keith spellin') you might wonder if any of their state legislators had ever read the document.

In a wave of xenophobic hysteria a few years back the Oklahoma legislature unanimously passed a ballot measure, the  "Save Our State" measure, that proposed to amend the State Constitution to forbid state courts from considering or using Shiria Law in its deliberative processes. Despite being laughably unconstitutional 7 out of 10 Okies voted to "Git er done!"

Predictably the Tenth Circuit struck down this piece of legislative garbage stating it did "...not identify any actual problem the challenged amendment sought to solve. Indeed, they admitted at the preliminary injunction hearing they did not know of even a single instance where an Oklahoma court had applied Sharia law or used the legal precepts of other nations or cultures, let alone that such applications or uses had resulted in concrete problems in Oklahoma."

Now you would think such a humiliating rebuke might have caused some in the Oklahoma legislature to pause, self-reflect, be a little more circumspect.  Oh no.  Apparently the Oklahoma legislature subscribes to the school of thought that it will really feel good when they stop slamming their rhetorical dick in the door.  Time to reload!  Next up from the state where every county voted for George W. Bush is the following piece of legislative stupidity:

     §74-4110.  Ten Commandments display monument.
     A.  This section shall be known and may be cited as the “Ten Commandments Monument Display Act”.
     B.  The State Capitol Preservation Commission or designee is hereby authorized to permit and arrange          for the placement on the State Capitol grounds of a suitable monument displaying the Ten                              Commandments.  The Ten Commandments monument shall use the same words used on the monument        at issue in Van Orden v. Perry, that the United States Supreme Court ruled constitutional.  This                      monument shall be designed, constructed, and placed on the Capitol grounds by private entities at no            expense to the State of Oklahoma.  The State Capitol Preservation Commission or designee is authorized      to assist private entities in selecting a location for the monument and arranging a suitable time for its                placement.
     C.  In the event that the legality or constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument is challenged in      a court of law, the Oklahoma Attorney General or Liberty Legal Institute is hereby authorized to prepare      and present a legal defense of the monument.
     D.  The placement of this monument shall not be construed to mean that the State of Oklahoma favors          any particular religion or denomination thereof over others, but rather will be placed on the Capitol                grounds where there are numerous other monuments.
     [1] Added by Laws 2009, c. 204, § 2, eff. Nov. 1, 2009.

In perhaps one of the sweetest, sardonically humorous lessons in karma ever dished out as a lesson to the stupid and great unwashed, the red neck racist rabble that make up the Oklahoma legislature.  The Gee Gaws are being schooled on constitutional law by a group of Satan worshipers from, get this, NEW YORK CITY! (To quote the old Pace Salsa commercials.) It just don't get any better than this!

But wait!  Oh yes it does!  Just recently the satanists unveiled their design for a 7 foot tall, goat headed deity complete with a lap for children to sit on that they  intend to erect at the Oklahoma state Capitol, as a fitting monument no doubt, to the stupidity and lack of even the most basic understanding of constitutional law as displayed by the know nothing supporters of the Ten Commandments Monument..

Now I suppose we really should not be surprised by all this.  I mean, after all, this is the state that once housed the biggest joke of a "law school", the now bankrupt and defunct Oral Roberts whose only contribution to American jurisprudence was its most infamous alum, Michelle "Bat Shit Crazy" Bachmann.

If you would like to contribute to this worthy cause

Put a Satanic Monument at OK Capitol
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad

Los Lobos To Host Pre "Winter Dance Party" In Mankato 1/31/2014

Minnesota State students and Mankato area  residents are in for a real treat later this month when one of America's finest bands, Los Lobos rolls into the Verizon Wireless Center on Friday, January 31, 2014.  "Why is the multi-Grammy winning institution of Americana, Latino and Roots Rock music coming to Mankato?" you might ask.  "Because it's there" says the mountain climber.  No because it is a warm up for their appearance the following night at the 55th Annual Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom in Cedar Lake, Iowa.

It is hard to believe that this coming February it will have been 55 years since the "day the music died" as Don McLean eulogized in "American Pie".  It was on the night of February 2, 1959 that the ill-fated Winter Dance Party tour of 1959 came to an abrupt halt when a plane chartered by Buddy Holly and also carrying Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper crashed shortly after takeoff in a corn field outside Mason City, Iowa.  The tour had just finished a show at the soon to be legendary Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake and was scheduled to play the Armory in Moorhead Minnesota the next night.  (My ex-father in law had told me he had a ticket for that show.)  Not wanting to risk getting frost bite like his drummer did just a couple days earlier on the poorly heated tour bus forcing him to drop off the tour, Holly thought a short plane trip to Fargo was well worth the extra money for a respite from the tour from hell.

The 1959 Winter Dance Party tour was 24 days of hit and runs in the upper Midwest at the worst possible time of the year weather wise, late January to early February, during one of the harshest winters in decades.  Fiasco and catastrophe do not even begin to describe it.  Whoever the sadistic genius was in charge of the itinerary must have been the same agent who once booked some friends of mine for a show in Minneapolis one night and the following night in Calgary, by tour bus.  My friends changed booking agencies that night.

Ever since the tragedy, the Surf Ballroom in conjunction with the good people of Clear Lake have put together commemorative concerts and tributes culminating in what has now become a weeklong series of events drawing music fans from all over the globe.  The 50th anniversary show back in 2009, 50 Winters Later, drew a line up featuring some of Rock n Roll's biggest names and most devoted Holly fans (e.g. Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Robert Plant or as I lovingly call 'em, the English geezers).

There will not be a need for Geritol at this year's event which features "just another band from east L.A.", Los Lobos.  As anyone who witnessed their show at this year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival (see the show on the webcast archive on line) Los Lobos remain a vital, ever evolving creative force of nature while keeping the same personnel, albeit with some welcome additions in percussion to free up the hugely talented former drummer now guitarist and co-leader Louie Perez.  Their latest release "Disconnected in New York City" shows that these guys, along with everything else, when it all comes down to it, are fine musicians.  And after all, isn't that what matters?

Be sure to check out the Pre "Winter Dance Party" Party at the Verizon Wireless Center January 31st.  Last time I looked you could still get seats 20 rows from the stage, a chance you do not want to miss.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014