The Vinyl Dialogues Blog

Stories behind memorable albums of the 1970s as told by the artists

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In the spirit of ELO, The Orchestra offers some not-so-strange magic of its own

One can get a pretty good critique of a concert in the men’s room immediately after the show. This is particularly true of bands that have been around for decades because generally, the crowds tend to be older and nature has a way of catching up with all of us at some point. Especially if we’ve had a few cocktails before and during the show.

Such was the case Jan. 2 at a concert by The Orchestra at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. As I was leaving the men’s room, another gent was staring at the wall, saying to all within earshot: “When they broke into ‘Telephone Line,” it was like I was back in my bedroom as a kid, listening to records.”

As much as I wanted to, I resisted the urge to answer, “Dude, that’s what The Vinyl Dialogues series is all about. The back stories behind … Read more

As it should be: Whitford St. Holmes blows the doors off Havana New Hope

It was around around 3 a.m. on a Saturday in 1971, and Derek St. Holmes had just arrived home. The high school senior was in a band called “Scott,” and it had a Friday night gig that had kept him out late, something that his parents usually weren’t too happy about.

The St. Holmes family lived in Riverview, Michigan, known as “down river” from Detroit. St. Holmes’ sister, two years his senior, was off to college, which was a break for St. Holmes. Her bedroom was bigger than his, and when she left, Derek got to move into her room and claim it as his own.

On this night, though, his parents were asleep by the time St. Holmes got home. He got to his bedroom without waking them up, but he was still hyped up from the band’s performance.

So with his guitar in hand, he sat on the … Read more

Ringo very good at being Ringo – and at getting by with a little help from his All-Starr friends

Before the show Friday night at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia, people were gravitating toward the stage to take pictures of Ringo Starr’s drum set.

It was the day before Halloween, but the only sign of that was a jack-o-lantern that was sitting on the riser alongside the drum set. On the pumpkin was an image of Ringo. I recognized it right away. It was the way Ringo was drawn for the Beatles Saturday morning cartoon series that ran on ABC from 1965 through 1969. It was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid and I watched it every Saturday.

The image on the pumpkin immediately reminded me of my childhood and a much simpler time. And it reminded me that it’s pretty universally agreed upon now that Ringo was in a pretty good band in the 1960s, a band that was big enough to have its own Saturday … Read more

A minute and 10 seconds with Dionne Warwick . . . thanks to The Geator

You gotta love Jerry Blavat, the iconic Philadelphia radio and television personality. The Geator with the Heater knows how to work a room. He has a great sense of style and a big smile that lasts a while.

Plus, he’s got a memory for faces. In particular, my face.

That’s how I got to meet Dionne Warwick. Jerry recognized my face and made the introduction.

The Boss With the Hot Sauce and Ms. Warwick were among the stars who attended the Philadelphia Music Alliance’s 2015 Walk of Fame gala Oct. 26 at the Fillmore Philadelphia, the city’s newest music venue.

The honorees this year included the late, great jazz singer Billie Holiday; The Roots, the band for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon; The Trammps, of “Disco Inferno” fame; Ray Benson, founder of the Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel; Andrea McArdle, Broadway’s original “Annie”; 1980s glam metal and … Read more

‘Sixties Spectacular’ show: Something tells me I’m into something good

A few songs into their set, “Yo” Vinny – the frontman and lead singer for The Bronx Wanderers – answered the question that many in the audience likely had been thinking: How do I get these kids to play songs from the 1960s?

On the surface, it seemed like a legitimate question. The Bronx Wanderers opened the “Sixties Spectacular” show Oct. 10 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, N.J., that featured Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Jay and The Americans and Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits.

“Yo” Vinny – the elder statesman of the band – has surrounded himself with a group of twenty something musicians that includes his sons, Vin A. “The Kid” and Nicky “Stix,” and some of their friends. The group covers songs by Dion and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

The way he got the “kids” to play the classic ’60s songs, he … Read more

Hall & Oates christen new Philadelphia Fillmore in true Philly style

The reality of a Hall & Oates show for me is this: Daryl and John could come out on stage, stand on their heads and play polka music on accordions and I’d be happy with it.

For the record, there is no accordion in the H&O band. This is probably a good thing, although I have no doubt that Charlie DeChant could play one if asked. (But for a moment, just ponder what “Kiss on My List” might sound like on an accordion. Or . . . maybe not.)

So this will not be an unbiased report on the opening show of the new Philadelphia Fillmore concert venue, which starred Philly’s own Hall & Oates, on Thursday, Oct. 1.

The original Fillmore was an iconic venue in San Francisco in the late 1960s that became the focal point of the psychedelic music scene of that era. Back in the day, … Read more

Memories of the ‘Def Leppard Method of Babysitting’

I was reminded this week that I once successfully employed the Def Leppard Method of Babysitting when my oldest daughter was an infant.

That’s because I had the chance to interview and meet Rick Allen, who has been the drummer for Def Leppard since the late 1970s. Allen was appearing at Wentworth Gallery in King of Prussia, PA, along with his art exhibit “Rick Allen: Angels and Icons” in conjunction with a Def Leppard concert the following evening in nearby Allentown, PA. Wentworth Gallery curator Tom Curley, a dear friend with whom I have worked many times on stories, invited me to do a piece on Rick’s appearance and come out to the gallery and meet the rock star.

Talking to Rick took me back to 1988 when I became a father for the first time. In those days, we were a young family that needed to have two working … Read more

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