HONEY WEST LANDS AT CUTTING ROOM — It’s virtually impossible to break a new rock ‘n roll band these days. Classic rock radio is in extremely short supply; even here in NYC, Q104.3, our sole classic radio station, plays only the classic hits … from the classic bands. The Dobbie Brothers, Genesis, Foreigner … only the certified hits kids. Therefore, when Ian McDonald (from King Crimson/Foreigner) launched his new outfit, Honey West, last year, with Ted Zurkowski, from the Actor’s Studio, I was suitably intrigued, but when I listened, and watched their very first live show at Bowery Electric, I was simply mesmerized by their prowess onstage.
The four-man ensemble, with Ian’s son Max on bass, was just brilliant at last night’s Cutting Room debut engagement. Multi-instrumentalist McDonald was just stunning on guitar; with their songs (music by McDonald; lyrics by Zurkowski) just sublime. I heard echoes of The Beatles throughout, with McDonald’s guitar work just stellar; turning seemingly simple chord progressions into moments of glory. Zurkowski possess one of the best voices I’ve heard in quite some time, more in the Lou Reed-category, but just exquisite. His lyrical renderings are equally as quirky. In “Dementia,” his I just ate my sweater line is a blast. The crowd ate in up!
Also terrific are “Brand New Car,” “California” and “Generationless Man” all off their debut CD Bad Old World. This band has everything going for it; if you’re up for it. Dexterity, imagination … one of the best surprises in quite some time and certainly THE best show so far of 2018. Seen in the mix were Premier’s Radio Mike McCann; PR-men Randy Alexander and David Salidor; Joanna Bonaro of Good ‘n Screwed; booking impresarios Peter Abraham, and Hap Pardo; Honey West-project coordinator John McCracken; Alan Rothstein; and Jeff Smith (thanks for the photos).
ELTON’S FAREWELL— I was just stunned by Tuesday’s announcement from Elton John that this next (three-year) tour, would be his last. After the Neil Diamond-news, I couldn’t believe it. Ironic too, that both men were originally on the same label in their early days; Uni Records (thank you Russ Regan). Say what you will about John, but I last saw him three years ago at Madison Square Garden: he performed for three hours and it was one of the best shows I’d seen in years. A colleague of mine said he’d rather hear vintage-Elton, rather than current Elton, but let’s face it, he’s 71 and his current material while not perhaps as suitably commercial as his earlier material, I think is as strong as ever. I’ve seen Elton in concert for years and he’s definitely a part of my life … and, our life. He’s earned the right to do whatever he wants and if he sees this exit as his next chapters, then I applaud him. Just for the record: he’s still going to be writing and recording, although it’ll definitely be different. He’ll be in NYC in October and you can be sure I’ll be front-and-center, properly thanking him for a lifetime of memories. From Norman Winter to Russ Regan to Rocket Records, Connie Hillman, Ray D’Ariano, Johnny Barbis, Warhol and Lennon … it’s been quite the ride.
SIGHTINGS — Rocket’s Tony King and PR-pasha David Salidor at Palm West for lunch … Mark Bego doing the AM-talker The Morning Blendin Tucson this morning and slated to do an in-store in support of his Eat Like A Rock Star at the Tucson Barnes & Noble Saturday, February 20; Micky Dolenz in the audience with Michael Nemsith last night at the Troubadour in West Hollywood … Sad to hear of radio’s Don Imus’ last show on March 29. Imus, a fixture on New York radio since he joined the city’s WNBC from Cleveland 46 years ago, will step down from his Imus in the Morning Program on Cumulus Media’s WABC and Westwood One on March 29, according to a message tweeted out by the show Monday. Imus was the prototype for the modern-day “shock jock,” offering an array of characters and forming a fierce rivalry with fellow WNBC broadcaster Howard Stern when the two were on the same staff. Imus dominated mornings at the station, while Stern was the up-and-comer doing afternoons, a situation Stern chronicled in his book and film, Private Parts. The 77-year-old has been on the New York airwaves consistently since his arrival in the city in December 1971, with the exception of a two-year return to Cleveland in the late 1970’s. He was rehired for mornings by WNBC in September ’79, which is when he joined Stern for a highly publicized team, often appearing on one another’s shows. That initial friendship soon evolved into a bitter on-air rivalry. He remained at NBC when it was sold to Emmis Broadcastingand became WFAN, debuting its sports format in 1988, with his morning show going into national syndication in 1993. After his infamous racist “nappy-headed” comment about the Rutgers women’s basketball team in 2007, he was fired by WFAN and hired at WABC in December 2007. His MSNBC simulcast was also canceled at the time, with the young duo of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski taking his place. Known for his outsized cowboy hat and an array of in-studio characters, including the radio evangelist Billy Sol Hargis, the Riverside, California-born Imus frequently ran into trouble for his outspoken criticism of the Bill Clinton administration in the 90’s, and fought a public battle with alcoholism. WABC has not announced a replacement for Imus, but his longtime producer Bernard McGiurk and colleague Sid Rosenberg currently man the 10 a.m.-noon slot immediately following his show. No doubt about it, a radio-legend.
NAMES IN THE NEWS: GINO SOCCIO; BOB SEIGAL; TONY KING; KEVIN MAZUR; DIANE GIBSON; HEATHER MOORE; TOM & LISA CUDDY; STEVE WALTER; PETER ABRAHAM; RANDY ALEXANDER and CFS.