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A Mayo Blues Blow Up and Grand Slam


Saturday, July 15, 2017

W O W!! Grammy award-winning blues-rock group Blues Traveler certainly continues to chart new musical directions. Led by singer John Popper, Blues Traveler performed a mix of old and new melodies, drawing upon their 30 years as one of music's most popular live bands, the Mayo Performing Arts Center, Saturday, July 15, 2017, like I never experienced in all my life with a blended audience.

Followed by the impressible warm up sensation Project Grand Slam, known as Robert Miller's Project Grand Slam, a New York-based Jazz Rock Fusion band with a twist of Classic Rock and Latin, which has earned over one million video views while defying genres, languages and geographic boundaries. Gashouse Radio says: "Robert Miller's Project Grand Slam deserves mentioning as among the best musical acts produced by American culture in the last quarter century!"

It surely does beyond measure! And as much as this may surprise many, I certainly agree. I could not believe how I enjoyed Robert Miller's Project Grand Slam which hit a GRAND SLAM! And Yes, Hallelu...YAH started the show on time at 8:00pm sharp and came out the gate like a race horse with its opening number from the latest new album, "Metro Shuffle!" "That's what I'm talking about!" I was totally amaze with Robert and Project Grand Slam who rendered their eccentric sound created only by them.

The band's new and 5th CD, "The PGS Experience" is now released and is a combination of five new studio tracks and four live performances. The reviews for the album have been glowing including from Jazz Quad; I do believe "The PGS Experience' will without question to take a special place in the discography of this famous band!"

The album features Special Guest Artist Mindi Abair, renowned saxophonist and two-time Grammy nominee, on two of Robert's new original studio songs: "Fishin"; with its laid back Island vibe, and "Metro Shuffle", a funky ode to Robert's hometown of New York City and it's wonderfully hectic pace. About her appearance on the album Mindi Abair says: "I loved playing on Project Grand Slam's CD! Robert's songs are terrific and the band has such incredible energy and great musicianship!"

Other new studio tracks include "Hollywood", an upbeat, driving song by Robert that captures the frenetic Tinseltown pace, and two new unique PGS-style covers arranged by Robert: Cream's "I'm So Glad" was happy, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Cream's debut album containing that song, and "Free" which made you feel freedom by the jam band super group soloist Phish.

The live tracks are songs that have previously been released as studio cuts by PGS and which captured the amazing energy and musicianship of the band in concert. They included two of Robert’s originals: "Gorilla", a smooth and powerhouse "arena" song, and "The Queen's Carnival", a Latin fiesta, rocked the house and two of Robert's signature re-imagined Classic Rock covers: The Kinks' "You Really Got Me", with awesome praised by Dave Davies and audience members alike, and Jimi Hendrix's "Fire", got you feeling the heat as PGS’s fired up song closed out its portion of the concert!

Upon a suitable short intermission, selling millions of records and logging thousands of miles on the road, GRAMMY award-winning band Blues Traveler who was "glad to be back to Morristown" and had the audience up on its feet, also continues to chart new musical directions evident on their newest release "Blow Up The Moon". A clever collaboration between various artists, Blow Up The Moon sees Blues Traveler keep an open-minded perspective on making music and enlists an eclectic mix of songwriters influenced by the band’s remarkable 25+ year career in that I was not quite familiar, but Lead Band Leader John Popper plays the Harmonica like none other and my Taxi Driver, Eric is so encouraged to play because of him.

Moreover, Blow Up the Moon is the first collaborative album that Blues Traveler has ever made. Prior to these sessions, it was rare for the band to have someone else perform on their songs and even more rare to have anyone outside the band write with them as Blow Up The Moon blew my mind with its exciting collaboration featuring a range of artists across the spectrum, representing country, pop, reggae and hip-hop and sang hit songs, such as "Love is What I Got", "You Reach Me" as the guitar player rocked it, "Run-Around" and the crowd went wild as cheers filled the atmosphere; lights flashing, instruments wailing as the organist took center stage as well as the electric guitar playing pounding on the a cow bell and eventually John led the most beautiful original song, "Cara Let The Moon" dedicated to belated friend.

"We wanted to experiment with co-writing since we usually try to do everything in-house, in this misguided homage to The Beatles," says singer John Popper. Blow Up The Moon allowed Blues Traveler to expand their musical palette while holding the foundation of their distinct and explosive brand of rock. "We found quality writers to see what they could bring to us as a band, and also people who could see our strengths, something that’s hard to see for yourself."

The concept for Blow Up The Moon came about when the band was commemorating the 20th anniversary of their six-times platinum, award-winning and breakthrough album Four. "Once the idea was put out there, the thing took on a life of its own." says guitarist Chan Kinchla. "We had so much fun reinvigorating our songwriting. This was an organic process that worked", whereas, one would have to concur, Blow Up The Moon featured some amazing collaborating artists who BLEW UP the stage with an thrilling and enthusiastic audience!

Of course there's always "The People's Voice" of whose names I did not receive, but, was wonderful to speak with during intermission. One of the nameless persons was curious as to how I knew of and inquired if I was a fan of Robert Miller and the Blues Traveler as he overheard me having a brief conversation with Robert at intermission of whom I failed to cease the opportunity for an in depth interview; nonetheless, the audience member went on to interview me, regard to Blogging, etc. and in the end stated that "from one upcoming Blogger to another, I am inspired!"...Well then... my mission is complete.

Furthermore, taking notes from the Mayo Performing Arts Center, there's really not much more I can add to want has already been stated, regarding these incredible band and band leaders, other than, the Mayo is a beautiful edifice and I'm sincerely honored to have been present to sit among an elite list of people. I fancied the audience participation as a several members broke out around me in high octane shouts and "happy feet" dancing. The overall performances were nice from the beginning and end.

Adding, The Mayo Performing Arts Center, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit performing arts organization, presents a wide range of programs that entertain, enrich and educate the diverse population of the region and enhance the economic vitality of Northern New Jersey.

The Community Theatre was built in 1937 and was once the crown jewel of Walter Reade's chain of movie theatres in New Jersey. Its success mirrored the love affair between America and movies during Hollywood’s Golden Age. By the 1980s, however, the Theatre had fallen into disrepair and sat idle and hulking for nearly a decade.

Now in its 22nd season, the Mayo Performing Arts Center has become one of New Jersey's preeminent arts and cultural organizations and now hosts more than 200 performances to more than 200,000 patrons every year as it mission is to reflect a wide array of contemporary, classical, jazz and world music, as well as dance, theatre, variety, comedy, family and educational programs. 

Finally, How I See It & Say It is that I've never experienced such a remarkable array of people in concert and briefly wondered and acknowledge "out of 30 years of walking with the Lord, what have I missed before and after accepting Christ?"...Then again...Nah, although tempting, that's just a thought, I've indeed had my share of worldly pleasure and found nothing compares to my spiritual walk with God! I assure you, this is  work I choose to do and not allow it to hinder my spiritual pathway as I enjoy the marvelous fruits of my labor. Make certain to check out Project Grand Slam and Blues Travelers will music is sold! 

Big Thank you to Ed Kirchdoerffer General Manager of the Mayo Performing Arts Center, Robert Miller of Project Grand Slam who could not wait to read this Blog post and for the generous gift, my son, Daniel, the best jr. assistant and plus one ever and Thank you immensely all inspired readers of this Blog Post!

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