Sunday, September 21, 2014

It's official! JR welcomes me into the Journey Revisited family with "Open Arms"

Today Journey Revisited front man Jeff Salado told JR fans on Facebook about my official role with the band...he's too kind.
I'm jazzed to announce that we're officially welcoming Pam Spaulding into the Journey Revisited family to support the band's outreach and operations as JR's fan base continues its incredible growth.

She's been working with us for the last few months as a "web angel" - building the web site, writing and promoting content (band interviews, fan profiles) and assisting with social media, including updates to our official JR Facebook page to interact with you. That's why you've seen her name in many of the posts lately.

Val, Dave, Mike, Kevin and I are excited about Pam officially coming on board to represent JR and "Faithfully" support her enthusiastic work with us 1000% - and we hope you do too with "Open Arms" (wink, wink). 
Journey Revisited fans and friends who are coming to our gig on November 8 at Black Oak Casino will have a chance to meet her as she works the event! 
Go Team JR!
- Jeff

My response:

I'm overjoyed to be part of the effort to help the band grow and for people to see and hear how beautifully they represent the classic Journey sound. Thank you, Jeff and the guys, for having faith in me. --Pam

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Out of the closet - here comes the web angel for Journey Revisited

Anyone who's followed me over the years knows that I'm a dedicated (encyclopedic) Journey fan. Even Melissa Harris-Perry made note of it on her show when I decided to shut down my political blog.

So it's not surprising to share that a new passion of mine is fun work I'm doing for Journey Revisited, a fantastic tribute band that I've previously blogged about. They are awesome.

What started out as a complimentary comment on Facebook about the band's incredible rendition of "When You're Alone (It Ain't Easy)" back in June, has turned into a love-fest because of the way JR brings back the classic Journey sound to audiences. And Journey Revisited does it without pre-recorded backing vocals; it's all live, all the time, in the organic, stripped-down way those beloved tunes were performed in concert back in the day.

Jeff Salado
The original web site, which didn't do the band justice to showcase their talent, I offered to reboot and turn it into a site with a blog. Working with lead singer Jeff Salado on the project has been a dream (he's full of creative ideas) -- so the web site work on design and functionality, turned into writing JR's blog, and doing audio and video editing. Then I took on other internet presence work re: social media -- Facebook and Twitter.

That stuff above sounds like a lot of work -- it is, but it's an exciting life change to have your work produce results and for it to be appreciated. Given I have a "real" job and my rheumatoid arthritis deals me a lot of fatigue, I had to figure out when I could slip some time into this project. It has been challenging, mostly because of the time difference -- the band is West Coast-based (Modesto, CA), so it's a three-hour difference.

How I do it

It took some time to figure out that it was OK to go to bed early (since I'm toast after work) around 6:30 or 7 at the latest, and sleep till around 11 or midnight. Stereotypically, rock singers aren't morning people -- and that fits Jeff to a T, so I get back up and do a couple of hours of work, then hit the sack again after taking my 3:30 AM meds. It's a weird cycle, but it's worked out. I can only do that a couple of days a week because my body just can't handle it, so progress has to come in fits and starts, but a surprising amount of work has been accomplished in a short time.

So my Jane-of-all-trades noodling around for the band needed an unofficial title for my gratis work, so I am now deemed the JR Social Media/Web Angel. I think it's kinda funny, but it fits, I suppose. In the real world, this would be called Internet Presence Manager or some such. But whatever I am, it's a great deal of fun and very fulfilling.

It's a completely different world - nothing like political blogging. This is no Pam's House Blend of dealing with politicos, fundamentalist nuts, or speaking engagements, and it's a relief, actually. The world of entertainment/performance representation, along with fans, and gigs is so foreign to me, but it's interesting to see that my skills used above can easily be applied in this environment. The rest of the business side of matters is fascinating as well.

Bright ideas

One of the ideas I came up with, Journey geek that I am, was to interview each of the band members and ask them about how they were introduced to Journey music, how they developed their passion into a tribute bands. You have fans that just go to enjoy a concert to reminisce about the songs in the timeline of their lives, and there are the other, more devoted (or obsessive, depending on your POV) fans, who want to know what makes an artist tick.

Those interviews have been extremely fun to do, and they give fans insight into the process of emulating artists whose talent they admire. You can read how Jeff Salado preps for a show, his process of bringing Steve Perry authenticity to his performance. I've also interviewed Dave Hawkes, Journey Revisited's drummer, in similar fashion. He's actually met Journey's former drummer, the incredible Steve Smith and shared a wealth of information and perspective while being incredibly entertaining. I've enjoyed this process so much; it's nice to deal with such down-to-earth people in such a different milieu.
Journey Revisited: L-R - Michael Gonzales, bass, vocals; Kevin Jachetta, keys, keytar, vocals; 
Jeff Salado, lead singer; Val Popovic, guitar and vocals, Dave Hawkes, drums and percussion. 
Photo by Jessica Ruggiero.
After all, lots of folks like me are passionate about their favorite artists, but would never imagine getting up to perform as that artist before people. It takes a special kind of person to have that confidence in their drive and talent to be in a top-notch, dedicated-to-quality tribute band.

It all makes me want to run and join the circus! These guys are great. They have a growing fan base, and bring down the house at every gig. It's gratifying to see their enthusiasm, it's infectious! :)

I just have to work on getting them to take the East Coast by storm...

Journey Revisited is the real deal. Watch:

Also read:
* Tribute band Journey Revisited on the road, paying homage to the classic sound
* There's nothing like an ace tribute band - check out Journey Revisited

* Web:
* Twitter: @JRNYrevisited
* Facebook: Journey Revisited

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fourth Circuit Rejects Ban on Marriage Equality!

Marriage equality may come sooner that we think to NC, something I didn't expect to see in my lifetime when I was blogging and working the fight to stop Amendment One here. From Equality NC:
In a landmark ruling that will reverberate throughout the South and the entire country, the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has upheld a lower court ruling and struck down Virginia’s ban on the freedom to marry.

Expanding a lengthy streak of legal victories for marriage equality, the federal appeals in Richmond ruled today that states may not deny same-sex couples their fundamental right to marry, overturning Virginia’s 2006 marriage ban. On the heels of a similar 10th Circuit holding on June 25, today’s ruling

The ruling could bring marriage equality closer, not just in Virginia, but in the other 4th Circuit states still seeking marriage across the South, including North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia.

“It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come. Just two years ago, in the darkest hours of our state’s LGBT movement, anti-gay forces in North Carolina pushed through a draconian constitutional amendment banning all relationship recognitions for same-sex couples,” said Sgro. “But thanks to the work of so many legal teams and plaintiffs, communities and organizations, supporters, families, and followers, we’re seeing today what a difference a few years of hard work, leadership, and commitment to equality in the South can make. With today’s ruling, we are closer to the freedom to marry than ever before, with support for marriage equality at an all-time high right here in North Carolina, across the South, and across the country.”
And better yet, the current NC Attorney General, Roy Cooper, has said he will no longer defend the amendment.
"After reviewing the 4th Circuit decision and consulting with attorneys here, I have concluded that the State of North Carolina will not oppose the cases moving forward," said Cooper. "In addition, the State of North Carolina will acknowledge the 4th Circuit opinion that marriage is a fundamental right and that our office believes that the judges are bound by this 4th Circuit decision."
He says any ruling on North Carolina's ban would likely be stayed until the U.S. Supreme Court turns down the appeal or makes a ruling.

 My reaction on Facebook:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Another look at the 1994 Steve Perry FTLOSM Beacon Theatre Concert

Screencap from the 1994 concert
Before Steve Perry made his set of recent appearances with the Eels to show he's still got a lot of vocal talent left to share in live performance (here, here, here), the last look look at his live chops was during the 1994 For The Love of Strange Medicine (FTLOSM) tour. I decided to take another look at it. [He would later rejoin Journey for Trial By Fire (1996), but did not tour behind the studio album (you die hard fans probably already know that whole story).]

FTLOSM just came out at the wrong time; grunge was in. Listening to it today it has aged well; special props to the then baby-faced guitarist Lincoln Brewster, he's fantastic here; he's currently a popular contemporary Christian music artist.

The songs are all downtuned significantly here for SP in 1994. Even with a reduced vocal range because of time (and all that wear on his instrument from overtouring), what remains is his styling, soul, astounding sense of melody and lyrical interpretative skills.

This full concert vid at the Beacon Theatre in NYC was obviously shot bootleg. SP/Journey fans have to thank the boot videographer, TheNYBG1 for capturing this; it was shot before small camcorders, point and shoot cameras or cell phone vid. He said this in the YouTube comments:
"I'm the filmer of this video. Obviously back then, there were no cell phones doing video. You either had a $1,000+ video camera or you had no video. By far most of the concerts I filmed in the late 80's and 90's, the only video to come out of a show was what I filmed. That being said, to try and give people a feel for what it was like to be there filming it, the Beacon Theater 2nd balcony in the 1st row where I filmed quite a few shows from, as you can see, it's quite a steep angle down to the stage.

Sitting back in the seat, I was filming above a ledge, but below a bar that was about a foot above it. Plus, add in security coming to seat people in the only 9 seats across rows (like the camera duck about a minute in due to that). Regardless of anyone's opinion of this video, the fact is that there wouldn't be any video of this show to watch if I didn't videotape this. I left my mark. :-)"

The set list:
1) Only The Young
2) Girl Can't Help It
3) Oh Sherrie
4) Lights
5) Foolish Heart
6) You Better Wait
7) Someone's There
8) Missing You
9) Listen To Your Heart
10) I'll Be Alright Without You
11) Wheel In The Sky
12) Dixie Highway
13) Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'
14) Any Way You Want It
15) Separate Ways
16) Don't Stop Believin'
17) Faithfully

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Has it really been this many birthdays (51)? Yup.

Wow! Who knew that turning 51 would be so popular? People blew up my Facebook wall today, sharing a lotta love. Thank you all for taking the time to stop by. I am overwhelmed and deeply grateful -- what an outpouring of well-wishes from friends old and new, family, readers, folks on the other side of the political aisle... (I guess you haven't forgotten the old -- and sleepy -- blogmistress yet).

There are still a couple of hours left on the birthday clock as of this post, it looks like today will easily top 500 individual wall greetings, and 275+ "Likes" and comments are on my official birthday Wall post. Y'all are insane! xo

Pam Spaulding is sex-ay (hey now - quit the chuckling and LMFAOs... ;)

My days as a political blogger are now in the past, but I am being honored this year by the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance for my body of work on Pam's House Blend (2004-2013) advocating for equality for all.

I will deliver a keynote and receive its prestigious Vicki Award at Woodhull's Sexual Freedom Summit 2014. The conference is August 14-17, 2014 at the Alexandria Hilton Mark Center. #SFS14

It's a rare public appearance for me these days, so if you want to attend to see your favorite blogmistress of the past here's the 411:


From the site:

What is Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit?

The one conference focused on sexual freedom as a fundamental human right in the US. Now in its 5th year, and with four days of institutes, workshops, plenaries, and social events. The focus of the Summit is the goal of the sexual freedom movement – global recognition of our fundamental human right to sexual freedom.

What do you mean by Sexual Freedom?

Sexual freedom means a lot of things to people. We understand it to mean the fundamental human right of all individuals to develop and express their unique sexuality; to be personally autonomous with regard to bodily integrity and expression of body mind and spirit; and to enjoy sexual dignity, privacy and consensual sexual expression without societal or governmental interference, coercion or stigmatization.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Celebrating our 10th anniversary - my how the state of marriage equality has changed since 2004.

Kate and I married 10 years ago in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada in 2004. It was a big deal back then, as there were not many places Americans could marry. It was legal in Massachusetts, but you had to be residents of the state then.

We did a simple dinner out to celebrate; we plan to go to Maine next week to relax and really celebrate with good friends. No big blowout.

This is how our 10th anniversary post looked on Facebook this week (224 likes):

I thanked people for the well-wishes the next day, and more wonderful comments and Likes came in:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Remembering the organic sound of Journey - 1978 King Biscuit Flower Hour

Every Journey junkie knows this pair of tunes - Feeling That Way and Anytime - classics produced by Roy Thomas Baker on Infinity (1978). When it was released, back in those AOR days, they were played back to back. One or both are usually played on set lists today.

What some may not know is that Journey did several songs from the album, including Feeling That Way and Anytime, on a live-in-studio, audience-free jam on the 1978 King Biscuit Flower Hour -- aka Super Jam II. It was recorded at Automatt Studio in San Francisco. The band collaborated with Tower of Power, the Doobie Brothers' Tom Johnston, and two members of the group Stoneground, Annie Sampson and Jo Baker.

This is a powerhouse show that proves Journey was capable of excelling in a diverse range of genres; the R&B roots are sorely missed today, IMHO.

A great write-up of the entire program is at ConcertVault. What makes this worth a listen is the genuinely organic sound of Journey back then -- unvarnished production, pure musicianship, stellar vocals and harmonies -- no pre-recorded backing vocals -- it's all live. It was edited and readied for broadcast, but due to legal issues it never aired. But today you can find all of the performances from the program on YouTube, which you can listen to here. It's amazing.

A snippet from the ConcertVault write up:
"Despite excellent results, legal entanglements prevented these remarkable SuperJam 2 sessions from being scheduled for broadcast, and with the exception of a cover of "Let the Good Times Roll," none have seen official release. Bootleg copies of the sessions did eventually surface, and they became treasured items among Journey collectors, often accompanied with rumors that the masters had been either lost or destroyed. Now, for the first time ever, the complete "Superjam 2" KBFH sessions are presented here in superb quality. 
...Bookended by two pairs of classic Journey songs when they were just breaking big and featuring various configurations, performing choice cover songs in between, these recordings represent a peak moment in San Francisco's musical history. These recordings also prove that Journey had not only become masters of commercially successful rock music, but was a group equally adept at many styles of music, including R&B and blues, with compelling examples of both included here. 
The sessions begin with a pair of classic rock songs from Journey's breakthrough Infinity album, "Feeling That Way" and "Anytime." The former is a prime example of what Steve Perry brought to the table, featuring a penetrating lead vocal that raises the superb instrumental work of this band to another level. The latter, which features Rolie singing lead, is a solid rocker that also presents Journey in a most positive light. Both of these numbers feature soaring lead guitar work from Schon, but it is keyboardist Rolie's piano work that saves all of the recordings presented here from sounding dated. Nothing more clearly dates late 1970s/early 1980s rock music more than the sound of synthesized keyboards and Rolie wisely avoids using them on these sessions. A talented and tasteful pianist, Rolie's instrumental contributions strongly contribute to the organic feel that make these sessions compelling even decades later."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tribute band Journey Revisited on the road, paying homage to the classic sound

Just a fun update on my favorite tribute band, Journey Revisited (see my earlier post). They may not have the posh budget or the gear of the mega-selling band they pay homage to, but fans turned out (this time about 6,000) at its gig in Redwood City, CA at the Music on the Square event to hear the classic sounds of the Perry era.

Journey Revisited's lead singer, Jeff Salado. Photo: Jim Branch.

Journey Revisited is (L-R): Kevin Jachetta - Keyboards/Vocals, Michael Gonzales - Bass Guitar/Vocals,  Jeff Salado - Lead Singer, Val Popovic - Guitar/Vocals, Dave Hawkes - Drums.

Sunday was the Monterey Beer Festival, Monterey, CA (below). More in the slideshow.

Photo courtesy of Journey Revisited fan group JR NATION member Tami Baloy.


Photo credit: Reese Entertainment where noted on Picasa.



On Twitter: (@JRNYrevisited)

On Facebook: | Listen to cuts on Facebook



Journey Revisited on the web:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Third time's the charm: Steve Perry hits the stage again in L.A.

What can you say? A pleasure to the ears once again. My first reaction:
Stephen Hazan Arnoff: @hazanarnoff - #StevePerry sings again...What's it all mean?

Me: Melting and weak knees here is what it means.
How it looked on Twitter...

The setlist:
It's a Motherf*cker
Only Sixteen (Sam Cooke cover)
Open Arms
Lovin', Touchin', Squeezing.

As I said on Facebook when the video surfaced: "Excuse me. Momentary break for weak knees and swooning. From Wednesday night in LA..."

Only Sixteen was jaw-droppingly good this time around. Steve Perry had so much more power and command of his reinvigorated gift -- his instrument -- it was all there. You could hear a pin drop at times in the Orpheum theatre. Perry's trademark vibrato and judicious use of melisma -- the whoa-oh-whoa-whoas that send chills up and down your spine -- resonated throughout the room. I confess, I was tearing up as I heard it. Joyful tears at missing that tone, that presentation. He's back; the rusty pipes are clearing up at lightning speed and he now has the self-confidence to let us see him getting back up to speed. That in itself is a victory. So many of us don't mind watching him bloom again, we've all waited for so long.

And after some touching and amusing storytelling, he launched into Lights and Lovin' Touchin, Squeezing...downtuned a couple of keys, but who cares. Swoon again...

For fantastic photos of the event, check out Leslie Kalohi's Flickr Photostream. 

He seems ready to come out of that shell...officially. He told The Hollywood Reporter, in a piece ("Journey's Steve Perry Joins Eels Onstage at Orpheum: 'The 20-Year Hermit Thing is Overrated'"):

Dancing like a man at least 20 years younger than his 65 years, Perry rocked out on "Lights (When the Lights Go Down in the City)," nimbly leaping over the microphone cords perilously snaked around the stage, turning his back on the audience to groove with Eels drummer Knuckles (Derek Brown), then facing the audience to hit the high trills flawlessly, yet with a new rasp in his voice sounding just a bit like E himself.

"The 'cit-ee' is L.A.!" shouted E.

"Here's another," said Perry. "I was 18, working as an assistant engineer in a music studio... I'm out of breath! I guess I haven't done this enough lately to get in shape.

..."It's been so goddamn long," said Perry to the audience. "I gotta thank the Eels for inviting me out here -- the best band that any singer could want. I met E because of a friend of mine, Patty [Jenkins, director of Monster]. She burnt me a CD of Daisies of the Galaxy, and I told Patty, 'Someday I want to sing that song.'" Then Perry and Eels performed the Eels tune, "It's a Motherf---er."

..."Listen, I've done the 20-year hermit thing, and it's overrated," said Perry. "Why now? It's a long story, but it has to do with a lot of changes in my life, including losing my girlfriend a year ago, and her wish to hear me sing again." 

As I shared with my friend Jeff Salado, lead singer of the fantastic tribute band Journey Revisited, I can be tough as nails in other areas, but I'll easily cop to being weak-in-the-knees, schoolgirl crushing on this stuff (it's why my political blog readers often made light of my Journey obsession).

But I wasn't the only one crushing on The Voice. Former Journey lead singer Jeff Scott Soto hit the nail on the head in a Facebook post (and he faved my Tweet when I pointed folks to it):
Ok, I’ve sat back and watch the cheers (and jeers), the big hype, the fatuous rumors and lastly, the criticisms of what once was and/or isn’t anymore so now I’ll chime in…as I do! 
Being a member of the legendary Journey for all of 11 months, I have my own thoughts about how I feel about this monumentally influential band today…but how I still feel about the phenomenon that is Steve Perry!

Mr Perry has resurfaced recently performing with The Eels, and I will admit, regardless of all the hoopla made out there, I personally just enjoyed hearing THAT voice again…in any capacity!

The words ‘aged, husky, raspy’, even ‘too rested’ have been thrown out there but to me personally, that ‘tone’ is still there, the one and only thumb, or rather, voiceprint, still exists and I couldn’t be more excited to hear it again!

A few weeks after the 1st earshot of Steve’s voice rang out, quite possibly a reality check in that YouTube is the end all be all in one’s humble beginnings or belated comebacks, and he’s seemed to spring back even more into his ol’ form. Sure, the Journey tunes he’s doing are a key or 2 lower give or take, but JESUS CHRIST, that tone, it’s there, it’s STEVE F-ING PERRY! If you don't believe me, here's what I am talking about from LA, I believe just last night.

So as I shake off the cobwebs of my own memories with this band that ended 7 years ago, I revel in the (hopeful) return of this monolith who was one of the reasons I could see R&B & Rock be plausible, the man who influenced me in so many ways and now after a 20 year absence, continues to do so…thank you Steve Perry!

UPDATE: Martha Quinn (@marthaquinn) agrees with my weak-kneed review!

UPDATE 2: Former Journey frontman Steve Augeri beautifully weighs in (in an oh-so-NY way, lol):
Today I experienced what I or any singer or songwriter dreams of and aspires to but seldom achieves. That is to be moved to tears, tears... by a singer and his or her song. The singer, Steve Perry, and the song penned by The Eels, "It's a Mother Fucker".

I am / was apprehensive of writing and expressing myself because there will be those who will perceive this to be either a kissing of the "tuckus" or… a show of disrespect to the gentleman who so successfully and beautifully followed us both, Arnel. They are neither, but a tribute to, and an acknowledgement of, an achievement that so many thought no longer obtainable.
This should be a lesson and an inspiration to us all. It certainly is to me.

Welcome home Mr. Perry.

Steve Augeri

And there was more...after the jump.

Monday, June 9, 2014

There's nothing like an ace tribute band - check out Journey Revisited

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - more so if it puts money in the pocket of the original band, no?

In my humble opinion, for classic melodic rock bands like Journey, these tribute bands probably boost sales of back catalog -- they draw new fans into the fold that enjoy the classic sound and experience that they provide.

After all, Journey, always a darling with fans, but not critics, can't hit every city. So tribute bands fill the gap; and most are regional. If you Google "Journey tribute bands" there's a ton out there to see, some great, some good, and, well, some also-rans. Most cover the Steve Perry era (1978-1996), as it's the most in demand. There is a lot of talent out there giving a lot of Journey fans hungry for the classics (and some of those deep cuts too!) pleasure.

You'll recall that Journey founder Neal Schon famously surfed YouTube for a new lead singer, looking at vocalists in tribute and cover bands, before settling on Arnel Pineda, who was fronting Zoo in 2007 (the band initially tapped Jeremey Hunsicker of the Journey cover band Frontiers; Hunsicker actually wrote songs that ended up on Revelation).

I happened to be on one of the fan forums that I am a member of -- "THE" JOURNEY JUNKIES- JJ's -- and moderator Viv Henry posted a link to a video by JourneyRevisited:

Journey Revisited is based in Modesto, California.
Vocalist Jeff Salado must take good care of his pipes to maintain the power, range, and tone that he has; he's the best out of the tributes out on YouTube that I've heard so far at handling the Perry upper range from the early-era tunes. And truth be told, Journey proper doesn't include some of those classics on its setlists these days, so it's good to hear "When You're Alone (It Ain't Easy)" done so well by JR - Jeff's vocals are rocking.  And the band is really tight musically with great fidelity to the Journey sound - and they don't use backing tracks, all of it so on-point, really organic and authentic.

So I popped on my headphones and over the weekend went over to watch more of JR's videos at I am thoroughly digging their sound.

Journey Revisited is (L-R): Michael Gonzales - Bass Guitar/Vocals,  Dave Hawkes - Drums, Jeff Salado - Lead Singer,  Kevin Jachetta - Keyboards/Vocals, Val Popovic - Guitar/Vocals.

"Too Late" (from Evolution) is such a beast to sing and the band nailed it beautifully as well. But I was blown away by his rendition of a non-Journey song -- "Unchained Melody" -- that classic requires so much control in delivery, and he not only did that with ease (looked effortless), Jeff's emotive delivery was also gorgeous.

Too Late

One of the things you have to remember about most tribute bands is that they are not just working musicians and vocalists; they do what they do because they are just as much die-hard fans of the particular group's sound that they re-create as the audiences they play to. I had the chance to briefly chat up Jeff (nice that he's so accessible!); and we had a great conversation about music, and about Steve Perry's recent return to the stage to perform live. We were both moved by the appearances -- as much as any starstruck fan of Mr. Perry, whose gifts have been sorely missed.

Just the Same Way

Part of that reminiscing involved discussing the authenticity of delivering a performance with feeling -- one of SP's gifts -- something those with the common bond of love for a band's sound and experience long for. And that is what good tribute bands deliver for people seeking that bonding experience with the music. It's something Journey and other bands being paid tribute to should be more in sympatico with -- more fans in love with the music will buy classics. And new music, should these bands put it out.

It's too bad I don't get to the West Coast much at all (I'm in NC, and rheumatoid arthritis makes traveling a bear); I would love to check this band out live; I'm glad there are Journey Revisited fans out there capturing vid and pics. I'd be right there doing it too and rocking out!

Check the band out on...
Related posts of mine:

Friday, June 6, 2014

#Throwback Thursday makes me hop into the DeLorean and think about life's wear and tear

For this week's #ThrowbackThursday I posted a photo on Facebook from my 1981 graduation from Stuyvesant High School in NYC. (More pics and stuff about my days there here.)
#ThrowbackThursday #TBT: NYC. Carnegie Hall, 1981. Stuyvesant HS graduation day. Contact lenses and big, blown-out hair (in the midst of reverting in the humidity). A grand time was had by all!
It was apparently a popular post, lol -- over 120 "likes" -- probably for the big hair. Of course it made me think about all those years of life that have transpired -- the wear-and-tear, the rheumatoid arthritis and various auto-immune diseases that the 1981 Pam had no clue about, of course, and the usual bits of business of aging -- bifocals, more lines, graying hair (less of it too).

So after barely surviving a horrendously hard week -- the hardest week in recent memory re: working and RA -- but it is what it is (until the plug is finally pulled). I've had to sleep in wraps on both hands all week (and elbow sleeves a few nights as well).

Today I came home and took some pics of myself -- and no tan or makeup to be found from 1981's iteration of me. I don't know why. Just because. Maybe it's to prove that while I feel like a shell of myself that I'm still here.

Maybe I'm fighting a bit harder to hang on day-to-day -- my hands and wrists were in such bad shape that I had trouble using pop-top lids without pain this week.

Then and now:

Why can't my portrait in the attic take all of the pain too? :)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Steve Perry and the Eels - it's not "one night only" as fans see him again in DC (updated)

It happened again at the Lincoln Theatre, in Washington, DC.

He delivered:
It's a Motherf*cker
Only Sixteen (a Sam Cooke cover)
Open Arms
Lovin', Touchin', Squeezing.


He told short stories in between songs, including a heartfelt mention of 'the love of his life" whose passing made him rekindle his love for The Eels' "It's a Motherf*cker."

The storytelling/singing is exactly the kind of tour I talked about in my essay after his first appearance. Limited shows, smaller venues, no stadiums, giving him freedom to be relaxed and enjoy himself. So glad he's also not discouraging of all the viral video (the selfie vid is hilarious and wonderful!). It's a real gift to fans not present at these surprise events.
"I would be perfectly happy to see Steve Perry do a couple of "Evenings With" concerts, filmed with an audience (bucket list item - to be there!) in Storytellers style. He doesn't even have to sing any Journey tunes. He's apparently got plenty of original material written and in demo form. It would be fantastic for him to do some R&B, blues stuff - the one genre he excels at that the current iteration of Journey unfortunately steers clear of in favor of the Dirty Dozen + a couple of deeper cuts."
I was blown away by the difference between the Minneapolis appearance and this one! The difference in confidence level surely represents the public response to the first. He reached back and just cut completely loose here, and he relaxed. His vocal cords came alive. And despite the bad hip, he was busting a few classic moves, as well. :)

As Ross Muir wrote in his analysis of Mr. Perry's voice, "One in a Million," he's a freak of nature. To be out of performing circulation for 20 years and to be able to bring back a much-improved performance over just a few days (his range and vibrato were in better, exhilarating form this go-round) was pretty awesome. He can't turn the clock back to 1978 and tour -- with his 2014 voice, but this was enough to make you shed a tear and want to hear his pace, and on his terms.

This format suits him, a small, organic musical environment, not amped up with rock tour dressing, drowning him out in some reunion of "glory days." People, er, "fans," out on the Internet began screeching at one another over whether SP's re-emergence as a sign that he must Journey (been there, done that) or that he sucks completely. These are exactly the kind of people Perry needs to ignore.

I'm also glad he's also not discouraging of all the viral video (the selfie vid is hilarious and wonderful!). It's a real gift to fans not present at these surprise events. It says it all about his healthy mindset:

I think he's probably still somewhat on the same page as he was in a 2012 interview since when people say "touring" they immediately think of him going on the road w/Journey doing like the old days. Not. Going. To. Happen. I think these recent appearances suggest he's warming up US to the idea that limited scope appearances and tours are something he'd entertain. No pressures to do 100 dates, etc.

The lesson: Just enjoy life. It's too short.

UPDATE: 6/2: Mr. Perry spoke about his appearances as just "for fun" (as it should be), and gave his insight on his voice now vs. then -- a nice reality check for fans thinking he can recreate the past.

He says of his moment in the spotlight: "When E announced me I thought I’d take the piss and hang back a while. But finally I’m out there; the audience saw me, and I hadn’t experienced that kind of emotion in quite a while. It was beyond exhilarating. 
"I was so grateful that they were so loving and happy to see me. I was just as happy to see them. I had forgotten how much I’d missed it.” 
Asked if he was happy with his performance, he replies: "Well, I hadn’t sung in 20 years – I sounded more like Otis Redding than I did in Journey; and I love Otis, so that’s not a bad thing. But after twenty years, wherever you hit that golf ball is where it lands. I just wanted to go out there and hit the ball. I was pretty pleased with what I pulled off. 
"I’m not the person I was thirty years ago; that person is gone."

Review: Journey at Raleigh, NC - Walnut Creek Amphitheatre - 05.29.2014

With my virtual Bic during "Lights."
First off, I wasn't sure that I was going to make this concert of my fave band because 1) I'm never sure how my rheumatoid arthritis will act up - nights out are a rarity for me these days, particularly a weeknight, and 2) I wasn't sure that I could snare decent tickets close to the stage, since I love to take pics and video.

But I'm a long-time fan of all eras of the band, so I wasn't going to let my chronic pain stop me. I was able to take the earlier part of the day to get some rest, load up on liniments and put on my knee braces, elbow sleeves, and wraps on my hands and thumbs and headed off with Kate to the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre to see Journey, with openers Tower of Power and The Steve Miller Band (both put on fantastic, energetic sets). A snippet of TOP:

Short clip of "What is Hip" by Tower of Power (@pow... on Twitpic

Re: the tickets, since the date was on a Thursday night, I actually snared great seats at face value on Sunday. I was in Section 1 (Neal's side of the stage, 3 rows back).


The Review

Journey's set list at the Raleigh, NC stop didn't deviate from any of the other 2014 dates -- the Dirty Dozen (most hits people know), plus two tracks from 2011's Eclipse:

Be Good to Yourself
Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
Any Way You Want It
Only the Young
The Star-Spangled Banner
(John Stafford Smith cover) (Neal Schon)
Stone in Love
Mother, Father
(Deen Castronovo on lead vocals)
She's a Mystery
Piano Solo - (Jonathan Cain)
(Medley of Patiently, When You Love A Woman, Why Can't This Night Go On Forever, several other hits)
Open Arms
La Do Da
Guitar Solo
Wheel in the Sky
Don't Stop Believin'
Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'

As I said in an earlier essay (A Journey fan's dream deep cuts setlist -- that means no DSB, peeps), I'd rather see the band do an "evening with" smaller tour where they change it up, marketed for the hardcore fans and cover ground in the vast Journey catalog of fantastic lesser-known hits and great "unknown" compositions.

But this tour is about the casual fans of the Greatest Hits, and so we have the above setlist; the house and lawn were packed, and enthusiastically singing along and cheering the band. I was particularly interested in how they would render the Eclipse songs - Ritual and She's a Mystery -- and how the crowd would respond. Those are the two songs that I recorded in full.

The good:
1) Tremendous energy this time around from all of the band members on stage (Arnel Pineda, vocals; Neal Schon on lead guitar; Jonathan Cain on keys, rhythm guitar, Ross Valory on bass, and Deen Castronovo on drums). When I saw them in 2012 in Greensboro toward the end of that leg of the U.S. tour, aside from Arnel and Deen, the others seemed quite tired and low-energy.

On Thursday they really revved up the audience.

2) Stagecraft and visuals -- multiple screens with interesting live shots of the band during songs (and fan-submitted photos during "Faithfully), alternating with other eye-catching images.

3) Arnel and Neal know how to work the crowd: Good interaction along with the energy is a huge plus that I have always enjoyed.

The could-be-better:
1) Sound: Tower of Power and the Steve Miller Band were bell-clear, and sonically right on point from where we sat. However, the moment Journey came on, people in my section were visibly in shock at the contrast -- a lot of distortion, with guitar too up-front, and even brief mic drop-off on several songs, not only Arnel, but notably Jonathan Cain during Anytime. The distortion on Separate Ways and the Star Spangled Banner in particular was almost painful. Mother Father seemed a bit better on this front. It's such a shame, really, and clearly it wasn't Walnut Creek's system at fault here. Hopefully this was an isolated issue; it remains to be seen if anyone else reports issues on the tour.

Of course, I can only speak for what it sounded like in my section; folks elsewhere or on the lawn may not have experienced what I did.

However, I managed to enjoy the show regardless, since I got great pics and vid. You can see my album here. (All photos and video captured with a point-and-shoot Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10 with 21x zoom)


She's a Mystery (had a camera glitch and missed a couple of seconds around :37):

This is a song with a non-traditional structure, it starts out straight mid-tempo ballad with simple guitar lead; people didn't quite know what to make of it in my section as it followed the pulsing "Mother Father" by Deeno. Most people stayed to listen and take it in, though. It appeared they thought the song was over when it transitioned abruptly to its scorching, amped-up rocker tempo; that indicated they didn't know the song, which is a shame; Eclipse is a great album, and a good showcase for Arnel's original voice and contributions to the band as it exists now.


This great little rocker went over well; had the audience curious. Arnel and the band definitely looked jazzed doing something other than the Dirty Dozen.


The other "experience" at the concert

An aside about the concert experience as someone now experiencing increasing physical disability; I was completely spent and hurting after the Journey concert, but it was a rare night out that provided a couple of hours of time to get back to something that I enjoyed immensely -- taking pix and vids while enjoying my fave band. I've had to permanently give up so much to this disease, from my political blog, my weekends and evenings since the job saps what energy I have left, the ability to travel unassisted, etc. It's unrelenting.

The fantasy getaway of those few hours of fun at Walnut Creek came crashing down when that woman nearly pushed me down on the ground for "walking too slow" on the way out and that "it's not hard to just walk" (did she not see my knees braces or that I was limping/dragging my left leg?!), affected me profoundly. I just buried myself in editing the pix and vid since it was hard to sleep.

The fact is that this woman that nearly pushed me to the ground just moved on, unaware that she said or did anything hurtful or ignorant. She was simply blissfully unaware of all that could befall her one day in terms of infirmity. To some extent we all are blinded, since thinking about losing physical abilities is why we often avoid those challenged with disabilities (or, rather, render them invisible). I was just humiliated by this woman, who didn't want to or care to understand the obvious, since I was inconveniencing her. I get that elsewhere nowadays, limping on a crosswalk and stopped drivers impatient and gunning their engines to continue as if I'm purposefully robbing them of a few extra seconds of precious forward momentum. I can only imagine what the more severely challenged deal with from the general public.

Food for thought.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Steve Perry sings live again -- and, as expected, it stirs up angst in the Journey/SP fan world

As a long-time fan who respects all eras of the band -- for me it's about the music -- it was gratifying to see former front man Steve Perry at the mic actually singing at length in public. It happened last night at an Eels concert in St. Paul, MN. He sang the band's song "It's a Motherf*cker", then went into a stepped-down version of Open Arms and Lovin', Touchin', Squeezing. It was wonderful to see him comfortable at the mic, and more important for the occasion --seeing an audience appreciating him.

That golden voice was completely pummeled by an insane touring schedule back in the day that would roast anyone's vocal cords. Fans that followed his vocal progression over the years can mark that around 1983 or so, his voice changed radically, the rasp that most fans of the Perry-Schon-Cain era know and love emerged. While it has character, that represented damage to his cords. He had an unreal, bell-clear countertenor back in the Infinity-Departure-Evolution era. That's not what we heard by the time he recorded Trial By Fire in 1996. His range was reduced, the rasp more pronounced, but he was still able to produced tracks that had emotional depth, soul, and amazing lyrical interpretation.

What I do hope this wonderful, heartfelt live performance will do is cease the ridiculous "reunite with Journey" mantra by some delusional fans that want him to hit the road again with the band. Steve Perry cannot sustain the trauma on those cords over a tour, nor would he satisfy the casual fans who want to hear the 80s hits as he performed them then. Just can the fantasy, folks.

I also hope this stops the incessant criticism that his voice is "gone" -- no, it isn't, it's what about I expected to hear. The grand thing is that he did it - getting over the fear of performing live, being judged unfairly about the "dirt" in his voice, the reduced range, etc. by people expecting SP pipes from 1978.

It didn't take long for comments on social media to get into all of that mess.

I am thankful that he is stepping out so he can see how most of us are content to hear him as is -- his vocal styling is completely intact - and shower him with the gratitude he deserves (and has feared wasn't out there). I feel sorry that for some he has to compete with the heights of his gift from decades ago.


And yes, I'm going to a Journey concert on Thursday in Raleigh -- with frontman Arnel Pineda singing those Perry-era hits and beyond (after all, he's now recorded two albums of original material with the band!). He's not in any competition with Steve Perry, nor should he be placed in that awful position by fans, nor should his fans find Steve Perry's recent appearance as some sort of threat to Arnel's existence with the band. I find these internecine wars juvenile, hurtful and unnecessary. Why can't folks enjoy the music, and come back to the real world.

I would be perfectly happy to see Steve Perry do a couple of "Evenings With" concerts, filmed with an audience (bucket list item - to be there!) in Storytellers style. He doesn't even have to sing any Journey tunes. He's apparently got plenty of original material written and in demo form. It would be fantastic for him to do some R&B, blues stuff - the one genre he excels at that the current iteration of Journey unfortunately steers clear of in favor of the Dirty Dozen + a couple of deeper cuts.


UPDATE: additional thoughts that I shared in abbreviated form on Facebook after more surfing around to see more reactions.

I've been in -- and lurked in -- a variety of fan forums and comments sections of news articles about the band over the years. It's way too easy to get sucked into the vortex of insanity -- 1) "no SP/no Journey/bring him back to the group;" 2) SP's voice is shot; 3) AP is better than SP; 4) JRNY= SA/JSS/AP = Karaoke. Or other subset groups that will never meet the other half way, and worse, take it out on fellow fans on a personal level.

Musical tastes are a highly personal area, so I get the passion surrounding it, but I think some folks find it hard to engage without taking different opinions personally.

Coming from a political blogging (and moderating) background, I've developed a thick skin from that sparring (try fending off death threats, social condemnation, and threats to your day job; that will harden you fast), so it still surprises me how quickly that conversations about my favorite band get hot and seemingly personal, when the temperature doesn't seem hot enough to warrant it. But they can and do at times.

I'm not sure why these camps can spiral out of control, but moderating discussions where there are a range of firmly-held opinions, no matter the topic, is a challenge. Every word choice gets amplified, the _perceived_ power differential between commenters and the moderator is always an issue in trying to keep everyone feeling welcome.

For instance, the terms of service on PHB was several pages long, and we had pretty firm moderation that required a good deal of time by my admin contributors, but it was all in the name of 1) keeping conversations civil, and 2) making it possible to have an environment where it felt safe to navigate politically sensitive topics with one another.

* A Journey fan's dream deep cuts setlist -- that means no DSB, peeps
* Steve Perry back on stage, enjoying himself (but what a tease!)

Friday, May 23, 2014

The glory of a spa pedicure in advance of the weekend RA med grind

Post-pedi tootsies are happy!
Today was a real treat for the terrible neuropathy in my feet and from the knees down -- a spa pedicure. It came with lots of glorious leg/foot massage and a hot paraffin wrap on my feet!

I nearly fell asleep in the spa massage chair. I'm that burned out and it felt that good.

Of course "feeling" is qualified when it comes to my feet and legs. I cannot tell hot or cold because of the nerve damage at this point, so the hot paraffin wasn't hot to me at all. Kate said it was really hot. I can feel the massage, but it's hard to explain what sensation feels like with nerve damage of this type. It can be both hypersensitive and numb, but overall the pressure feels good, particularly in the muscles. The joints, not so much, but the overall feeling is one of relief.

Kate and I have had nothing but fabulous experiences at Lee Spa Nails in southern Durham (

Owner Monica Khov (in the pic with me below) and her staff take great care of us. We've been going here for several years, intermittently, and she recently expanded, adding more chairs, a full bar, and a man cave (quite a lot of guys come in to care of their feet there - how can you go wrong with a relaxing pedi). On our last trip for a pedi we had mimosas!

With Monica Khov, owner of Lee Spa Nails.
Of course this afternoon I have to take my weekly RA meds that make me sick over the weekend, so it's nice to feel good for part of the day! Have to stay positive. :)


New therapy (sort of)

This week I am trying out methotrexate (MTX) by injection, rather than oral pills, in order to reduce the increasing joint pain in my hands/wrists/shoulders/elbows. My rheumatologist said the injectible is more potent at the same dose, but may bypass the bad gastrointestinal side effects. The potential downside is that the other side effects -- chills, fever, fatigue very down mood swings -- may be amplified. So Kate and I will be mindful to see how I'm doing over the weekend. By Monday these side effects largely pass, but it's rough going dealing with the MTX plus the side effects of Orencia.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My own ableism and thoughts about assistive technologies and productivity

The reality of the need to rely on voice recognition software is setting in. My hands and wrists are going south fast from rheumatoid arthritis. I had a flare-up last week that caused me so much pain that by the end of the day I was literally crying at my desk. It was difficult to drive home because gripping the steering wheel was nearly impossible. I had to sleep in wrist and thumb wraps...when I could sleep at all.

Since I have a job that relies on using a computer and the vast majority of my essential job functions rely on keyboarding (and mousing) and computer multi-tasking, it's a necessity that is forcing me to evaluate just how reliant I am on my physical capabilities to accomplish essential job functions.

It's a good thing in many ways to be humbled by the challenges of losing the abilities that you take for granted in many ways, to embark on more than an intellectual exercise in this area to understand the world from a yet another point of view. So as I think these things out in this digital space, dear readers, I apologize in advance for inadvertent stepping on toes as I confront my own ableist biases "aloud."

Tip-toeing into Voice Recognition Software

Fortunately Chrome and the Android OS allow for easy implementation of it w/o the OS-resource sucking Dragon Naturally Speaking. Configuring my tablet/PC/phone took just a few setting changes. Aside from some web apps, most basic functions are accommodated.

Saying that it saves you from any keyboarding is ludicrous, unless numerous typos and lack of advanced formatting are acceptable in a business context. Correcting is tiresome and tedious.

That speed trade off is huge. It is no surprise that it unfortunately doesn't match up to being able to physically touch type 80 wpm on the fly. Dragon has better accuracy than built-in voice rec, but it has a steep teaching/learning curve. I'm just trying out the built-in functionality and I'm beginning to see the huge productivity hit that will result in real-world circumstances (for me).


The more I fiddle with basic voice rec, the more I wonder how those who have limited ability to manually type (or lose it altogether) can use a computer without compromising a lot of former speed and accuracy.

[Of course, if you never had that physical capability to begin with, there isn't that that personal frame of reference to contend with, but there is the comparison to performance expectations in the abled world.]

Efforts that I depended on manual dexterity and speed for - such as moving between apps and windows, copying and pasting, text formatting, etc. are so far a no-go w/o Dragon. Of course my brain is quite biased by personal history. It has been well-trained over the years to execute such tasks effortlessly from thought to my hands to the keyboard to the computer. Now that this "communication chain" is broken, learning to do the same tasks using different tools is daunting.

It would good to see if there are studies/tests to evaluate one's voice rec performance to multi-task, multi-app keyboarding and navigation, not just the metric of straight dictation.

For instance, doing Facebook or Twitter updates using native voice recognition software (OS and Chrome; not Dragon) on my tablet or desktop is impossible to do without some keystroking or manual intervention. Most of my devices do best with straight dictation only. My Samsung phone is best at the latter.

I guess that my main focus now is figuring out how to think about voice recognition software and its place as an assistive technology. Is its primary purpose to simply make certain functions possible? Beyond the possible, what is the expectation regarding performance itself - is the assistive technology's purpose to help that person achieve the same performance levels that exist in the able-biased world as well?

The latter seems like a lofty goal, but being able to accomplish a function is not the same as accomplishing that same function at the same rate of speed as you did before. A logical question then is how expectation of rate of speed of performance falls into the category of essential functions of a job.


There are plenty of practical considerations of course; take a read through the voluminous Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA ) site and the Job Accommodation Network (the Dept of Labor site). They are not really bedtime reading, but interesting resources to peruse if you have the time. You realize what a herculean accomplishment it was to pass such a landmark law (1990) given the amount of ableism that existed then and continues to exist today. For instance:
"Under the ADA, when an individual with a disability is qualified to perform the essential functions of a job except for functions that cannot be performed because of related limitations and existing job barriers, an employer must try to find a reasonable accommodation that would enable this person to perform these functions. The reasonable accommodation should reduce or eliminate unnecessary barriers between the individual's abilities and the requirements for performing the essential job functions."
There's a lot packed in the above that has been life-changing for those working with disabilities. The ADA has ensured that they can bring their considerable personal and professional skills to bear to contribute to the economy by giving them access to opportunity.

The wrinkle of course is unless the reasonable ADA accommodation causes an "undue hardship." What constitutes "undue hardship" for an employer in this matter? It has to be:
"Excessively costly, extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business."
Yeah, it's complicated and there's a lot of ink dedicated to unpacking that statement. Just do the bedtime reading, if you are so inclined...

Some history -- the ADA would not have passed without the advocacy of Senator Bob Dole (R-Kansas), whose presence on the Hill among colleagues made a crucial difference.
Senator Dole was a fitting advocate for people with disabilities. In an interview with ABILITY Magazine, Senator Dole described the effect of his war injury: 
"Experiencing a disability yourself, you could almost walk around with a blindfold and pick out the other people with disabilities…. Having a disability changes your whole life, not just your attitude." 
...On July 16, 1990, more than 3,000 people attended the signing ceremony on the White House lawn. As he signed the bill, President George H. W. Bush said: 
"Every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom… We will not tolerate discrimination in America." (Read President Bush’s Full Remarks at ADA Signing) 
Bob Dole added: "This historic civil rights legislation seeks to end the unjustified segregation and exclusion of persons with disabilities from the mainstream of American life… the ADA is fair and balanced legislation that carefully blends the rights of people with disabilities… with the legitimate needs of the American business community."

BTW, this post took forever using voice rec. In the end I typed about half of it, and corrected a boatload of the input. And the formatting had to be done via keyboard. With that said, it could be done over time and at my own pace. That's certainly not the same as the pressure of composing something on a deadline for work.

* Life changes -- RA drives me onto the professional off-ramp

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Journey fan's dream deep cuts setlist -- that means no DSB, peeps

What kind of setlist would I like to see Journey play before the group stops touring? The band has a large catalog of hits, but there are a lot of lesser-known gems that you may not know about, and if you do, know them, in the last few years you didn't hear them in concert.

Journey, 2011, the Today Show / Pam Spaulding
The last several tours have been triple bills (2014 will feature Tower of Power and the Steve Miller Band opening for the J-Boys), and that means little more than the Greatest Hits (or "Dirty Dozen") will be played for the mass of casual fans that show up. This leaves a chance for one, maybe two lesser-known nuggets to make the setlist. I will not shed a tear if I don't hear the beloved Don't Stop Believing again. A few more from the band's rich catalog would be greatly appreciated!

This post is about a hope and dream that Journey will think about doing maybe 5 dates, in strategic locations in the U.S., that die-hard fans will be willing to travel to -- smaller, more intimate venues (I fantasize about them coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center; and how about going to The Apollo in NYC for the hell of it!?), where they can do a 2.5-3 hour single bill show. If it's just 5 dates, there's no dread about the endless, tiring road dates. They will have time to think about fresh arrangements/concepts for the concerts, and they will be well-rested and enthusiastic about traveling down memory lane to revisit songs that rarely or never saw play on the road, plus personal faves, etc.

Or, rather, MY personal faves. Since this essay is about a dream set list of deeper cuts from albums that I happen to love, I get to set the terms! There's plenty here to argue over, of course (such as leaving the pre-Perry albums off of my consideration list). I welcome comments, and it would be great to see others make their own fantasy setlists; it's all good.

Journey fans are opinionated die hards and there are definite differences as to which period in the band's history is "the best." The fact is that this band is much more than its "classic" period that most casual fans know about and love. (And for the haters? Why are you reading this? Move along.)

What isn't in question, as you sample some of the video clips, is that the band excels in the live environment. They come alive in concert when released from the constraints of the studio.

A couple of caveats about this fantasy --

1) It has to be grounded in reality. Steve Perry is not going to reunite with the band. Period. Done. If he ever turns up in a concert, it will be solo, one-night-only kind of deal, and it will be on his own terms. Or he'll remain happily retired and we'll possibly, one day hear new recorded music from him. Having lunch with The Voice is on my bucket list (I'd probably pass out if I ever did get to meet him), but there's no way a concert appearance going to happen in the context of a reunion tour -- I accept that; and

2) It is has to be plausible that a couple of the former lead vocalists could be convinced to show up at this handful of dates. I'm thinking Robert Fleischman (who's that, you might ask -- well, he wrote and performed in the band before Steve Perry, and is still going strong with his band The Sky these days), Gregg Rolie (the original Journey vocalist, now on the road with Ringo Starr's All Starr Band in 2014), and perhaps even Steve Augeri would say yes to an invitation to sing a couple of numbers from their chapters in the Journey catalog. While I'd love to see short-term frontman Jeff Scott Soto on board to handle a few of the hits that call for the considerable R&B swagger that he possesses I'm not sure things were left off in a place with the band (long story, for another day) where he'd say yes, given I set the "plausible" standard here. Oy.

So where to begin? I won't bother attempting a sequencing of the setlist. First I need to pick some cuts. My picks for the setlist will have 2 asterisks, runners-up, 1 asterisk.

Let's be counterintuitive and start from the most recent album and go backwards in the DeLorean ...

Eclipse (2011).

I saw the kickoff concert for this 2011 release, and they played 5 cuts from this CD, so I was quite fortunate. However, there are fantastic, very Journey-esque tunes on this guitar-heavy work that were never played in concert. Here are the ones I definitely want to hear live (two stars):

Current Journey frontman Arnel Pineda./ Pam Spaulding
City of Hope *
Edge of the Moment *
Chain of Love *
Anything is Possible **
Resonate *
She's a Mystery *
Human Feel *
To Whom It May Concern *
Someone **

For crying out loud, there was not a sane reason to leave Anything Is Possible off a 2011 set list. It was actually released and charted as a single! I heard it 3 times when I was randomly out in public, once in a grocery store, once in a Subway. I forgot the third venue. I also heard it on the radio a few times. But it was never played in concert by the band. Huh? It's pure, classic, Journey. Uplifting message, positive, it showcases Arnel's warm, rich tenor, great harmonies, and Neal's guitar just sings during the solo and outro.

Someone -- come on, boys, this is another sure-fire single that never was. It's has a great zingy, pop confection of a synth opening by Jon Cain, paired with ample classic piano keying. I would consider kicking the concert off with this one! Arnel's energy is infectious; so much fun energy!

Runner-up Human Feel was one of the songs played at the Las Vegas February 23, 2011 concert. It has a unique, fascinating syncopation, courtesy of skins master Deen Castronovo, and great pulsing bass on the part of Ross Valory. It threw a lot of concertgoers off beat as they tried to dance to it. It was hilarious. Interesting lyrics about the disconnect in this "digital ocean" of information make this one a winner live. I'd enjoy hearing this one again just to watch Deen go wild on the kit.

Deen Castronovo / Pam Spaulding
On to Revelation (2008):

Never Walk Away
Like a Sunshower **
Change for the Better **
Wildest Dream
Faith in the Heartland *
After All These Years
Where Did I Lose Your Love **
What I Needed
What It Takes to Win
Turn Down the World Tonight

Almost all of these got an airing in concert as it was Arnel Pineda's debut smash with Journey. The release also featured a CD with re-records of classic Journey hits. But what holds my interest are the original recordings -- Cain and Schon definitely wooed fans with a classic sound on this CD.

Like A Sunshower didn't see the light of day in concert, and it's a pity, so that's why it makes my cut here. Beautiful, slow ballad in an unusual time signature (Pandora says twelve-eight time signature; it's the same as the classic "Lights") and sonically pleasing chord progression that takes advantage of the J-Boys harmonizing. Win.

Change for the Better is a driving rocker, with a 80 synth + crunchy rhythm guitar style. My ears tend to tire of over-reliance on synthesizers that Jonathan Cain used to create the signature sound of the band in the 80s. Some songs simply don't age well (more on that later), or head directly into Cheez-Wiz land for me. However, this one perfectly matches up to the material and Arnel and Deen's energy. Neal's standard wailing solo fits as well. It's upbeat and has there's a nice pulsing bridge.

Also played in concert during this period is one of my favorites, Where Did I Lose Your Love, that clearly (to me) is a echo/tribute to Motown, written in a minor key, and it benefits from strong piano work by Jon, and great singing guitar work by Neal, and again, the harmonies make this song rise. Want to hear this one live again.

Let's step back into the Journey Wilderness Years after the jump....