By now, you'd think that Fab Four lore would be picked clean down to the bare bones. And yet there are still more tales to tell, and Freda Kelly has better stories than most -- she was their secretary, after all, in which capacity she oversaw many aspects of the operation behind the scenes. After four decades of staying mum, Kelly is finally telling her story in the movie "Good Ol' Freda," which shows at the Full Frame Festival on Friday. One of Kelly's oldest friends is Raleigh resident Colette Winterburn, a fellow Liverpool native who served as one of her confidantes while the movie was being made. See the story from Thursday's paper, which includes details on Friday's screening.
CARY – Sometimes the weather cooperates, sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes when it doesn’t, things still work out pretty well. Like Saturday night, as Glen Campbell sang his iconic hit “Galveston” onstage in the rain at Booth Amphitheatre. It was as if they had synced up the lightning to coincide with the song’s lines about cannons flashing and the narrator being “so afraid of dying.”
Campbell’s performance wasn’t too long, clocking in at less than an hour. But it’s remarkable the show happened at all. This is a farewell go-round for Campbell, who announced last year that he has Alzheimer’s disease and would retire after one last album and tour. Given that an upcoming run of dates in Australia and New Zealand was just canceled out of concerns that Campbell wasn’t up for that much traveling, you had to wonder about his condition.
Then there was Saturday night’s stormy weather, a drenching thunderstorm that delayed the show for more than an hour because of lightning in the area. Concerns about the weather and finishing before curfew shortened Campbell’s usual 19-song set down to 14, but the good part was that it was all wheat and no chaff from one of the most enduring catalogs in popular music.
The “official” rock-history version of the late ’60s/early ’70s is that the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan were all that mattered. For those of us of a certain age, however, the Nixon era was as much about the Partridge Family, “The Brady Bunch,” Herb Alpert – and Campbell, who had an astonishing run of signpost hits including “Gentle on My Mind,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” and the aforementioned “Galveston.”
Campbell is 76 now, and his voice has acquired some rough edges. But he has learned to work around that, and he still puts those signature songs across in a way that makes you feel ’em. He showed off a great yodel, too, on the Hank Williams standard “Lovesick Blues.” And he showed still-excellent touch and taste on guitar, with some especially nice interplay with his son on the outro of “Wichita Lineman.” Campbell’s touring band features three of his kids, including keyboardist/banjo player Ashley Campbell, who served as foil on “Dueling Banjos.”
Overall, Campbell was in fine voice and excellent spirits, and he seemed appreciative that so much of the crowd stuck out the foul weather to see his show. Of course, there was also a fuzzy moment or two that may or may not have had anything to do with his mental state; Campbell garbled the “Wichita Lineman” line about “that stretch down south,” which came out something like “that stretch right there.”
No matter, it was still lovely and moving – his favorite Jimmy Webb-penned hit, Campbell said. Mine too. And here’s the best part about the weather: You couldn’t tell how many tears there were out in the crowd.
By David Menconi
DURHAM -- Over the decades, I've been happy to follow Elvis Costello's many detours down tangential musical byways, from country stringbands to classical string quartets. I've admired, respected and enjoyed most all of it. But I must confess that what still gets my heart beating fast are the rage-steeped poison-pen songs from his old revenge-and-guilt period -- especially when played by a loud-and-fast quartet like the one he brought to Durham Performing Arts Center Sunday night.
It was a spectacular show with three-dozen songs clocking in at just under three hours, played by a band featuring longtime Costello veterans Steve Nieve on keyboards and drummer Pete Thomas bashing away. The set drew heavily from the old days, too, starting with "I Hope You're Happy Now" and ending with an encore including "Clubland," "Pump It Up" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding."
Yet it was hardly one-dimensional. Instrumentation featured everything from Theremin to ukulele, and the wide-ranging song selection included covers by the likes of Buck Owens, Chuck Berry and Booker T & the MG's. As always, Costello offered a veritable musicology lesson about his own catalog. At one point as the band vamped on Booker T's soul instrumental "Time Is Tight," Costello noted that he had turned that riff into his 1980 song "Temptation" -- and sang it to demonstrate.
Sunday's show was vastly different from Costello's previous Triangle appearance in 2009, when he brought a six-piece country band to Cary's Booth Amphitheatre and played an Englishman's take on Americana. This band was stripped down and so was Costello, who appeared slimmer and fitter than he's been in years.
This was the final U.S. date of Costello's tour featuring "The Spectacular Spinning Songbook," a great onstage gimmick. The setup included a go-go dancer, a television showing static ("As you can see, we keep the TV tuned to Fox News at all times," Costello quipped), a high striker and a huge wheel of fortune with several dozen song titles, topics and themes.
Four songs in, Costello put on a black tophat, took up a cane and went into a carney rap as the band played Blood Sweat & Tears' "Spinning Wheel." That was the setup for audience members to come onstage, spin the wheel and determine the next song.
You'd think that might result in a set with no sense of flow or transition. But it was hugely entertaining, in part because of the canny structure of each spin suggesting groupings of songs. One audience member (who brought along two vinyl albums he made Costello sign onstage) spun to "Happy," and the band obliged with three songs from Costello's "Get Happy" album.
Mostly, though, the format worked because Costello is a terrific and witty showman, and he kept things moving right along. His song introductions were as entertaining as the performances, especially one story about meeting Johnny Cash and another about playing "No Particular Place to Go" for an audience including Berry, Keith Richards and Leonard Cohen.
One audience spinner was a young woman in a red dress that appeared to be spray-painted on, and she did an impressive dance routine in the go-go cage along to "Veronica." Another young woman requested "My Funny Valentine," which appeared to just melt her; she sat onstage quietly weeping as Costello played it.
Costello was the band's sole guitarist Sunday night, and he put in plenty of six-string heroics. Nieve and Thomas also played well, although the keyboards didn't seem loud enough in the mix for much of the show. And bassist Davey Faragher's backup vocals were on-point and just-right throughout.
Even with the spinning-wheel format, few of Costello's standards went missing. By the end of the night, he'd included "Alison," "Watching the Detectives" and "Everyday I Write the Book." He made 'em all sound brand new.
Menconi: 919-829-4759 or blogs.newsobserver.com/beat
If you're a guitar player of a certain age, you've probably spent a little time -- maybe even a lot of time -- fooling around trying to duplicate that first chord to "A Hard Day's Night." That ringing clang is one of the coolest, most dinstinctive sounds in the rock cannon, and many theories have been put forth as to how they did it. If you've ever wanted to hear it broken down into its component elements, then check this out.
It's that time of year, and no, paying the taxman is no fun for anyone. But 'twas always thus. Just ask the Beatles.
Don't go here unless you've got some time to kill. But do set aside a chunk of time to check out "Charting the Beatles," a rather amazing project that involves "Exploration of Beatles music through infographics" -- such as this visualization of 1966's "Revolver," as defined by the distribution of keys in the album's songs (including mid-song key changes).
Monk (6am, USA) - I can think of no better way for USA to kick off their big Awards Marathon Weekend than with a whole day of "Monk." Tony Shalhoub, who plays detective Adrian Monk, has been nominated for seven
consecutive Emmys for the role, and has won three times. "Monk" is a USA original drama. The marathon runs from 6am to 11pm. Look for some great guest stars here, including Sarah Silverman, John Turturro, Stanley Tucci, Jon Favreau, Howie Mandel, and Gena Rowlands.
AquaPalooza on Lake Martin (8pm, CMT) - Alan Jackson performs for thousands of fans in boats on Alabama's Lake Martin.
Jockeys (9pm, Animal Planet) - This is the second season of a great reality series for lovers of the highly competitive and dangerous world of horse racing. Tonight, there's some tension building between the male jockeys and the female jockeys, and a former star jockey gets another shot at the big time.
The Making of Sgt. Pepper (9pm, VH1 Classic) - A retrospective of the Beatles' 1966-67 Abbey Road Studios recording sessions. Features commentary from Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Brian Wilson, and Phil Collins. (The Beatles' first film "Hard Days Night" airs just before this at 7pm).
It's hard to fathom why the Beatles' fan-club Christmas singles from the '60s have never been compiled on a single-disc album. But they're easy enough to find online. As is this wonderful concoction, "Christmas in Boston," from the bootleg album "Santastic."
It may be gray rather than white, but have a happy holiday, y'all.
For decades now, guitar players have been trying and failing to replicate the distinctive riff that kicks off "A Hard Day's Night" on a clangorous note. Finally, someone has cracked the code -- with math, oddly enough. Using a calculation called the Fourier transform, Canadian mathemetician Jason Brown broke the sound into frequencies, and he concluded that the secret is... Well, read about it here.