Heavy petting

Palo Alto booked a Tom Petty cover band at Mitchell Park the day my mother died. I took a video walking from the parking lot to within three feet of the singer, and him staring down at me, almost forgetting his next line.

When the City announced its six-part Twilight Concert series I noticed a different Petty cover band, Petty Rocks versus Petty Theft.

I wrote to an agent to ask if he knew if one or the other of those groups was considered better and he misread my query as something about Pop Rocks his client which covers a non-specific group of songs by other people in other eras.

Then the city announced that In the Led was replacing Petty Rocks.

I actually left a 4-star (****, in Halliwell’s) Fred Astaire movie to peep out the Twilight Series. I said hello to the sound vendor, Kevin, and put up some posters for my SFMT show, and I also chatted with the opening act, who did an a capella medley of songs associated with movies.

I thought the Led Zep band was pretty bad. Worse at 110 Dbs than it would have been at 100 Dbs. But then I wondered if the guitarist was actually Steve Zukowski, a Gunn ’80 who plays in various high end cover bands. I moved closer to the bandstand, side stage, stage right and endured the pain in my ears, sans earplugs.

I concluded that the guy looked like Steve ZoSo and a bit like Jimmy Page but was not Steve ZoSo.

Previously on my blog Plastic Alto I made a joke about In The Led being the sonic equivalent to a groupie servicing a minion to get to a rock star. I actually don’t think someone who makes money pretending to look or sound like a classic rock act or actor would be offended by the reference.

But I also point out that The Waybacks who played my show yesterday for about one-third as many fans have a cd recorded live at MerleFest in North Carolina where with a guest female vocalsist Sara or Sarah from The Duhks they really nail about 10 Led Zeppelin songs. Also, Gretchen Menn is a guitarist from Palo Alto (and also a private pilot and Casti grad) who co-leads or co-led an all female Led Zep band. If I was producing a Led Zep tribute I would hire all three acts: The Waybacks, Steve Zukowski and Gretchen Menn; or I’d get a blues band that stuck to songs people know from Led Zep, the Dead or the Stones.

Or someone who has a better ear than me tell me why In the Led is a better band than I am giving them credit for. And I definitely saw people who were hoping for Tom Petty leave after being disappointed by In The Led.

Palo Alto’s summer concert series seems designed to breed a group of people who don’t actually like live music but wish they did, stuck in a vicious cycle. It’s like “dry beer” — beer for people who don’t like beer, or something. And such small portions: at its peak circa 2003 Palo Alto had 15 Tuesdays and five  Thursday nooners at Cogswell Plaza downtown. Maybe the difference is by switching from Tuesdays to Saturdays they get people with nothing better to do. 

I am not sure how the Magical Playground series works: is it for kids or adults? What happens if too many people show up?

And why do we drag staging to Rinconada and Mitchell Park rather than using the bowls?

I thought the 4th of July band the city hired was even worse; the tell was that they brought their own sound rig. It looks like they low-balled the normal production by saving the city $500 on contracting Kevin Korecki AND a band. They were best appreciated from the safe distance of the food trucks lines (I ran the 5K race — or walked it — then grabbed a salad from Piazza’s because I needed to buy tape to do my SFMT posters — tmi I’m sure but it’s my blog motherfuckers. My wife gets mad when I swear and says that only Black people can use the term “m*&^$%*&”).

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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