Stevie Wonder | Songs In The Key Of Life | Nokia Theatre L.A. Live | 12/21/13

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Have you ever thought about what you would say or do if you were in a room with one of your childhood idols?

One of my childhood idols was Stevie Wonder. I discovered his music by way of the 1993 cover of “Lately” by Jodeci. When I started doing some research browsing the CD racks at the local library, the first CD I pulled of the rack was “Songs In The Key Of Life”. I must have been too eager to play the music, as I started with disc 2 rather than disc 1, and the first song I heard was “Isn’t She Lovely”. I was hooked.

Since then, I’ve amassed a considerable collection of his music (on CDs and LPs) even spending hours making a detour to an HMV while I was touring Japan with my college singing group to search for albums I hadn’t ever seen before. While the rest of the group members were doing touristy things, I found a copy of Stevie Wonder’s  harmonica album “Eivets Rednow” (that’s his name spelled backwards if you couldn’t tell).

Fast forward to the relative present, I had to pick up a paycheck at my bosses’ business manager’s office. I stepped into the elevator, and with the doors closing to take me up, a hand jammed in the middle to open the doors back up. One man walked into the 5ft by 5ft compartment, followed by another man directing an older gentleman wearing a daishiki and sunglasses. That man was Stevie Wonder.

All of a sudden, my stomach turned and my palms got sweaty. My mind started racing, searching for something to say, but as the elevator came to a stop, it’s doors opened and my teenage idol slowly departed the space, with me there silently watching … watching him walk away as the doors closed me in.

Ever since then, I’ve repeatedly thought to myself what I could have said in that space of a few seconds …”I used the lyrics of ‘Send One Your Love’ for my best friend’s wedding toast” …  “‘Sugar’ and “Anything You Want Me To Do” are my favorite songs form “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” … “‘Music Of My Mind’ changed my life.” …  “I plan on using ‘Ribbon in the Sky’ as a song at my wedding, whenever that happens” … Yeah, I guess you can say that I’ve thought about what I’d say to Stevie the next time I was ever in a room with him.

When I heard that Mr. Wonder would be performing “Songs in the Key of Life” in its entirety for his annual “House Full of Toys” charity concert in Los Angeles, I used my industry connections to ask for orchestra seats that had been announced on Ticketmaster as being “sold out”.  Weeks went by, and it wasn’t until the week before the event that I was notified that a pair of tickets would be held at will call for me. I was set, and I could only eagerly count down the days before attending a concert whose music meant so much to me and my life.

When I picked up the tickets at will call, I was surprised to find that with my tickets were VIP passes to the private bar of the venue. I’m not typically a VIP kind of guy, but knowing that the venue was huge (maximum capacity is over 7000), I appreciated not having to wait in line for a beer.

As me and my guest were about to enter the private bar, a security guard halted our progress. I scanned the room and noticed the hallway to the stage door in front of me and …. AN ELEVATOR immediately to my left. My stomach turned and my palms got sweaty. Sound familiar?

As I nervously joked with my guest that, “I bet you Stevie is in the elevator,” the elevator doors opened, seemingly in slow motion … in a way that made it seem like the universe was playing some twisted joke on me … and the man of the evening, Stevie Wonder, stepped out of the elevator with his entourage.

The room was quiet. I was quiet.

My mind racing to retrieve one of the gems I had thought of years before, a woman standing behind me, interrupting my train of thought, yelled, “I love you, Stevie,” and with that my mind yelled out the only thing I could think of…

“I love you too, Stevie” … and with that, he disappeared behind the stage doors.

Epic, EPIC fail. LOL.

My epic fail aside, the concert was everything that I could have hoped for. The list of special guest performers was epic: Greg Phillinganes, Joe, Frederic Yonnet, John Popper, Chick Corea, Eric Benet, Esperanza Spalding, John Mayer, Ledisi, India.Arie, Herbie Hancock … the list goes on.  It was a backing band fit for a king, and Stevie ruled the stage. The Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone Magazine wrote terrific reviews of the show, so I’ll spare you my rambling.

While you click those links to read what they had to say, I’ll be over here in my corner practicing what I’ll say the next time Stevie Wonder is in the room.

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Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

A Year of Concerts: 2012, 24 Concerts, 1 Favorite

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In 2012, I was blessed to have been able to attend 24 concerts.  This being the inaugural post of my blog, I thought it may be a good way to kick things off if I listed each of the concerts in the order that I enjoyed them (starting with the least favorite, and ending with my favorite), with a line or two of my thoughts.

24. Shuggie Otis– The Echoplex- Wed Dec 5

It’s hard to see an artist that you acknowledge as Los Angeles musical royalty without his gift.  By all accounts, a sad musical revelation for me.

23. The 10th Annual Korea Times Music Festival– Hollywood Bowl- Sat April 28

While I can appreciate the musicality of some of the K-Pop act thats performed throughout the evening, I’m assuming I didn’t truly appreciate it like the others because I just didn’t understand enough.  I’m a bad Korean-American.

22. Moby– The Annenberg Space for Photography- Sat Jul 14

Moby did two sets:  Live Folk and DJ.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t that impressed with either.  While I can appreciate his musical venture, I kind of want to hear the older hits that I grew up with.

21. Boyce Avenue– Club Nokia at LA Live- Sat Dec 08

By buddy proposed to his girl, on stage at this show.  He picked the perfect show.  Chicks dig Boyce Avenue.

20. Starting 6– Vanguard- Fri Aug 10

Hot, sweaty, party hip-hop.  These guys can rock a joint

19. Orange Tulip Conspiracy– Mr. T’s Bowl- Fri Sep 21

The musicality of this Jazz group is amazing. A must for any jazz aficionado. I hear they are recording a new album, and I can’t wait to her the new material.

18. The Airplane Boys– Roxy Theater- Wed Aug 15

Other level hip-hop.  I also saw them at Coachella.  They killed it at the Roxy like they killed it in the desert.

17. Bizarre Ride Fest– Bizarre Ride Live (Fatlip, Slimkid3, J. Swift, etc.)- The Roxy Theater- Sat Dec 29

The Pharcyde’s debut album “Bizzare Ride II The Pharcyde”, to quote my buddy David [@davidshein on twitter] is “just one of the best hip hop albums ever”.  I won’t disagree.  Even when it’s performed by only half of the original group, the music still holds up.

16. The Heavy– El Rey Theatre- Fri Sep 07

In support of the their most recent release, The Glorious Dead, I jammed out at this concert.  Their front man, Kevin Swaby, was born to perform.

15. Jason Mraz and Christina Perri– Tour Is A Four Letter Word- Hollywood Bowl- Fri Oct 05

I enjoyed Jason Mraz at the Hollywood Bowl, but I’ve seen him at The Wiltern (full band) and The Walt Disney Concert Hall (acoustic), and his music is better suited for more intimate venues.

14. Animal Collective, Flying Lotus and Huun Huur Tu– Hollywood Bowl- Sun Sept 23

Animal Collective delivered.  Huun Huur Tu entertained.  Flying Lotus blew my mind.

13. Raphael Saadiq and Band of Skulls– The Annenberg Space for Photography- Sat Aug 04

Such and odd concert pairing, but they both were amazing.  KCRW kicks ass.

12. Girl In A Coma, Pinata Protest and Sara Radle– The Echoplex- Fri Apr 27

Girl In A Coma is one of my favorite “new” bands.  These girls kick ass.  I wanted to see them again this year when they were opening for Grizzly Bear, but I couldn’t fit it into my schedule.  The lead singer, Nina Diaz, has a voice to die for.

11. Playboy Jazz Festival– Hollywood Bowl- Sun Jun 17

Ramsey Lewis is a musical savant.  I always pay money to watch genius perform.  Robin Thicke were Preservation Hall Jazz Band were good.  Was a slightly unimpressed with Spectrum Road.

10. Eric Hutchinson– Troubadour- Sat May 19

He was the first artist I truly “represented” back at my first job after passing the bar exam.  I couldn’t  be prouder of how far he’s come.

9. Allen Stone– The Fonda Theatre- Fri Oct 19

If this guys plays his card right, he could playing the Hollywood Bowl in a few years.  The first thought I had after the show ended?  “I’ll be able to tell my kids (when I have them), that I stood front row at an Allen Stone concert at The Fonda”.

8. Ben Harper– Vieux Farka Tour- Hollywood Bowl- Sun Jul 01

When Ben Harper sang a cappella, without a mic, at the front of the Hollywood Bowl stage, he earned by respect. He also played the one song I needed to hear, “Burn One Down”.  Can’t ask for more.

7. Hot Chip, Passion Pit and Omar Souleyman– Hollywood Bowl- Sun Sep 9

I went to the show to see Passion Pit. They met and exceeded expectations.  I was expecting more from Hot Chip.  I didn’t get to see Omar Souleyman.

6. Meshell Ndegeocello and James “Blood” Ulmer– Royce Hall- Fri Dec 7

Meshell Ngedeocello performed her interpretations of Nina Simone classics.  Mesmerizing.

5. Peter Gabriel– Back To Front- Hollywood Bowl- Sat Oct 6

I’m not going to lie.  I had a moment.  Flashing back to my younger years when he played “In Your Eyes”, mine started to water.  The power of music.

4. Fiona Apple– The Greek Theatre- Fri Sep 14

She may have been a bit too gaunt for my personal liking, but she can still sing.  A poetess with a voice.  There isn’t that many like her out there in the world.

3. Mint Condition– Club Nokia at LA Live- Sat Jan 28

Mint Condition has always been underrated.  In my humble opinion? They’re one of the best live, R&B bands out there, period.  Stokley’s voice is perfect for R&B.  I grew up with their music.  They are one of my favorite bands.

2. No Doubt– Gibson Amphitheatre- Fri Nov 30

I’ve always kicked my self in the rear when it comes to No Doubt.  They used to perform locally when I was growing out, but I never went to a show.  I can now cross this off my concert bucket-list.  Oh, by the way, I’m in love with Gwen…

1. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival– Empire Polo Club- Fri Apr 13 through Sun Apr 15

Dr. Dre & Snoop.  Radiohead.  The Black Keys. Bon Iver. Swedish House Mafia.  At The Drive-In.  Florence and the Machine.  Girl Talk.  The Shins.  Mazzy Star.    Andrew Bird.  Need I go on?

I’ve written about most of the shows on my Facebook page, so if you want to know a little more about particulars, free to shoot me a tweet [@methodman13] and I’ll send over some other thoughts.

I hope your 2013 is filled with musical discovery, and that a song stirs your heart always.