The Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz & Me

Posted by Frankly Francis on September 19, 2012 under Music/Musicians, Personal | Be the First to Comment

Having recently heard of the latest Monkees reunion tour, sans Davey of course, I got to thinking of one of the threads of my youth that came to fruition much later along my pathway.

It’s very important to take the space time continuum seriously… especially when you are not much of a believer in fate, destiny or that things always happen for a purpose, like myself.  For me things can be summed up pretty neatly with the words of Douglas Adams, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”

Back in the 60’s, music was exploding.  It seemed like every day there was a new sound or a new artist adding to ever expanding genres.  I tried to take it all in.  We all tried to take it all in.  I think we may still be trying to take it all in. It was an incredible time musically!

I love music in every form, but I have always been a sucker for a good pop hook. The Beatles were astounding.  They were everywhere.  They changed pop music with each new album, and they changed pop culture each time as well.  The rest of the English Invasion was a musical force to be reckoned with.

America had to respond.  And respond it did on every front. Admirably too.

One of those fronts was sheer profit. The Monkees were assembled as a money making business, pure Hollywood corporatism. Yet it was so wonderfully American.

And I loved the Monkees! Their job was making music! They had the Monkeemobile! They were hanging out and having fun! They got in (and then out of) the most ridiculous situations as a way of life!

My take on them, then and now: Davey had charm that was contagious, Mike was a serious thinker, but someone had to be, and Peter was just goofy. Mickey was just too cool and my undeniable favorite.

In the 60’s, when the Monkees came to town for a concert at the venerable War Memorial Auditorium, I heard on the AM wireless that they were arriving at the airport.  My brother and I convinced my mother to drive us over there so that we could meet them in person.  I was never more excited.  I tried to think of what I might say to them.  Maybe they would give me tickets to their concert.  Maybe they would ask me backstage.  Maybe they would ask me to be a Monkee. Maybe they would ask me to tour with them…

Of course we were at the wrong airport.  The Monkees flew into the private airfield right next to where we were.   Dreams dashed in the sad realization that we were not going to meet them.

But I knew one thing for certain from the Monkees – I had to be in a rock band.  As a result of that, I had the incredible opportunity to perform with musicians who, to this day, I am deeply honored to have shared a stage with – times I will always cherish and be thankful for.

Real good stuff.

Fast forward a few decades. I’m doing the corporate gig as CFO of a rapidly expanding Internet company. We make generous donations to “Computers for Kids.” We get preferential treatment at their annual gala fundraiser. Mickey Dolenz is the performer. I get a private post performance party invite.

I am going to finally meet Mickey Dolenz. Did I mention that Mickey was my favorite Monkee?

It’s not that I am star struck, well maybe a little, but it’s that I like to meet the people who have had a profound influence upon me and thank them. And if possible, have as much conversation as the opportunity presents.

The show was great and it’s time to fulfill a boyhood dream. I’m cool, but yet I am as over-excited as a child. Finally, Mickey joins the party. He situates himself right next to me at the bar in the private room. I seize the moment and request a photo of me and Mickey.

As the photo is about to be snapped, I place my arm around Mickey, and in doing so, I push his drink right off of the bar. Horrors! Mickey looks at me and tells me that it took 20 minutes for the staff to find his particular drink of choice. He is not happy. Nightmare! I sincerely apologize. They replenish his drink.  It gets better. I get my picture.

We talk. I feel so good.  I tell him that “Shades of Gray” remains my favorite Monkees song. I tell him that Davey did a great job on the vocals. He tells me that it is his favorite too, but he sang the song. I am pretty sure that my memory is good in this regard, but this is Mickey Dolenz contradicting me here. I have to cede to him. Meeting summary to that point: Oh no, bad start that got better now taking a negative turn.

But things went back to good between me and Mickey, and as it turned out, I had the most delightful time talking with him.

When I had the later opportunity to listen to “Shades of Gray,” I realized that Davey did indeed sing most of the lead with Mickey singing along, but mostly harmonizing. Well at least Mickey and I consider it our favorite Monkees song.

Sometimes we get what we want in our childhood, when we are adults…



The Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Posted by Frankly Francis on January 11, 2010 under Music/Musicians | 4 Comments to Read

How can the Holidays be complete without experiencing The Trans-Siberian Orchestra?

For reasons of obvious bias and lack of neutrality, I must state that I have known Trans-Siberian Orchestra Co-Founder and Musical Director, Bob Kinkel, since childhood.  We have never been close to BFF and in many ways are very different, but we have enjoyed performing together back in the days .  Yet, our mutual interests make knowing Bob that much more special to me.  As I am, needless to say, rather proud of him, I look forward to profiling Bob in a future post.

TSO in concert is Spectacular Spectacular!  The combination of so many musicians, the musical arrangements, lighting & pyrotechnic effects, and choreography make for an intense experience.

Each season, the performance (in two sets) is based on the traditional program consisting of the story and songs of “Christmas Eve and Other Stories”  followed by a set of selected TSO songs, this year featuring songs from their new release “Night Castle.”

This was the second time that I have seen TSO perform.  I enjoyed it more than the first.

They certainly have a great outlook.  Here’s what Co-Founder Paul O’Neill recently said in an article in the Detroit Free Press – “”We spend more on pyro in two months than most of the rock world does in an entire year,” O’Neill said with a laugh.  “Our first duty is to the fans, to give them the best show for their dollar. We realize that entertainment is not a necessity of life, but human beings need moments of joy, or at least moments that are stress free. When you’re not worrying about what’s outside the arena, the body gets to recharge its batteries. The underlying story is about hope.”

And they are obviously doing something right as Billboard recently ranked TSO as the highest grossing winter tour.

Frankly Francis, Bob Kinkel & Debbie Backstage 2008

Next Holiday Season, do yourself a favor and spend a night with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  I am already looking forward to it.



AC/DC at HSBC Arena, Buffalo

Posted by Frankly Francis on October 19, 2009 under Music/Musicians | Be the First to Comment

AC/DC: They Bring It

Angus Young

Angus Young

Tonight, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at AC/DC’s sold-out show in Buffalo, New York.  Thought I’d share some concert thoughts:

Formed in 1973, AC/DC continues to rock in their straight forward, no frills way.  It has always been and continues to be pure guitar driven music.  And these guys are not the pansy rockers from the last few decades – they are the real deal.  I have a feeling that they’d just as soon fight as have a drink in a bar…well, maybe both.

AC/DC has the unique ability to make you feel good about being bad, but that is what Rock & Roll has always been about, isn’t it?

They played a lot of standards with a nice sprinkle of new material that presumably will become future standards, notably among them were “Big Jack,” “War Machine,” and I especially enjoyed “Anything Goes.”  Personally, I was very pleased that “The Jack,” “Whole Lotta Rosie,” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” were still in the set list.

Angus Young is one of the most physical guitar players I have ever seen perform.  His solo at the end of the show was tremendous – a real treat!

Can’t say that I was awed by the sentry positions that the rhythm guitar player (Malcolm Young) and bass player (Cliff Williams) took around the drummer (Phil Rudd, who I might add smokes like I do) – it left a lot of unused stage.

Also, lead singer Brian Johnson’s voice seemed to weaken as the show went on.  I can’t imagine how anyone could sing AC/DC material for nearly two hours without some loss of vocal chords, but by the end of the show he was back in command.  Hopefully he can keep going for the shows ahead.

Nonetheless, these are the most minor of criticisms and are probably only my own.  The crowd sure had a great time.  And as I said before, so did I.

Now, for a little local flavor: Buffalo is a drinking town with a sports problem.  As the fates would have it, The Buffalo Bills were playing the New York Jets in overtime while the opening act, (The Answer) was on stage.  Almost everyone was in the hallways (including myself) watching the game on the plethora of TV screens and only a few people were inside hearing the band – tough time for an opening act.  I would hazard to guess that in all of Rock & Roll history, never have so many people been inside an arena for a show without watching the band.

All in all, an excellent evening.



Music! Music! Music!

Posted by Frankly Francis on October 6, 2009 under Music/Musicians | 8 Comments to Read

“Without music, life would be a mistake” – Fredrich Nietzsche

Music has always been a large part of my life.  It helps me connect the dots.  In my early years I was trained and played the trumpet, and then moved on to the French horn.

April 1, 1972 was my first rock concert.  Dr. John opened for Emerson, Lake & Palmer at the venerable Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo.  Wow!  Don’t think I’ll ever forget that concert…Life Changing Implications.

I took up the bass guitar and began my career as a Rock Star with my band, Shoko.  Notably, I had the opportunity to perform with Chris Kinkade, who happens to be an incredible earthling (singer, actor, harpist & holistic healer), along with Bob Kinkel (Co-Founder of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra & a guy who took what we were doing a little too seriously, thankfully).

Frankly Francis, Chris kinkade & Bob Kinkel

Frankly Francis, Chris kinkade & Bob Kinkel

But in my case, alas, it turns out that I can appreciate music much better than I can perform it.

Maybe it’s the fall air, maybe just dredging up some memories, but I decided to jot down the artists that I’ve seen perform (including some thoughts as I deem appropriate) to share with you.  It’s been a nice exercise – one that you might want to enjoy doing yourself.

Like how when you hear a particular song, it will remind you of a moment in time or an event that happened, concerts can also walk with us through life.  At least many do for me.

I’ve left off classical, jazz, gospel, opera, and musicals from the list.  I’m sure that I’ve missed some, due to age or other mind-altering influences, but here (in alphabetical order) it ‘tis:

54-40 – 2X
Aerosmith – Multiple shows, but Stephen Tyler’s voice was never once solid
The Alarm
Randy Bachman (of The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive)
Marcia Ball
Better Than Ezra
Black 47
Blood, Sweat & Tears – 2X
The Blow Monkeys
Blue Oyster Cult – 2X
Bow Wow Wow
David Bowie – Perhaps my favorite concert of all
The Box
Garth Brooks – No. 3 Daughter’s first concert
Jimmy Buffet
The Byrds
Bruce Cockburn
Joe Cocker
Collective Soul – First time was great, the 2nd time is known as “The Collective Disaster”
Crash Test Dummies
The Cult
Burton Cummings (of The Guess Who)
The Del Lords
Mickey Dolenz (Of The Monkees) – Tried to meet him as a boy, but got to as an adult
Dr. John – First concert, then got to meet him many years later
Duke Jupiter
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – 2X
Mark Farner (Of Grand Funk Railroad)
The Forgotten Rebels – Mickey DeSadist where are you?
Gov’t Mule
The Grapes of Wrath
Great Big Sea
The Guess Who
The Headstones
The James Gang
The Jeff Healy Band
Ken Hensley (Of Uriah Heep)
Humble Pie – Peter Frampton was still playing lead guitar
Iron Maiden
J. Geils Band
Jethro Tull – 2X
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Tom Jones
Kid Creole & The Coconuts
Level 42
Living Colour
Lover Boy
Lynyrd Skynyrd – A couple of times before they fell from the sky
Chuck Mangione – Sadly & ironically, a couple of his musicians fell from the sky in Buffalo not too long ago
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Missing Persons
Kim Mitchell (of Max Webster)
Montrose – Sammy Hagar was lead singer at the time
Moxy Fruvous
National Velvet
The Northern Pikes
Ted Nugent
Our Lady Peace
Pegasus – Mark Freeland – Thanks in a big way!
The Pretenders – Debbie & I had the lower right box at Shea’s – incredible!
The Psychedelic Furs – Many times.  No. 2 daughter’s first concert.  Years after that, finally got to have a smoke with Richard Butler
The Pursuit Of Happiness
The PushStars – Ah, those shows were always fun
The Ramones – No. 1 Daughter’s first concert.  Next time around No. 2 daughter saw them.  Both were under 10 years, but I told them some day they would fully realize the importantance of seeing the Ramones
Leon Redbone – Saw a few times and who is he anyways?
Patti Rothberg – Debut release party at our club.  Went nowhere and neither did the club
Savoy Brown
Southern Culture On The Skids – No.2 Daughter was asked on stage to toss chicken at the audience
The Spinners
The Spirit Of The West – 2X
Split Enz
Spooky Tooth
The Stampeders
The Stereophonics
Talas – Many, many times and many thanks for the memories
The Tea Party
Tears For Fears
They Might Be Giants – 2X
Three Dog Night
Timbuk 3
The Tragically Hip – A few times.  They were supposed to play at our club, but…
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra – My first real All Access Pass!
Pat Travers
The Trews
The Tubes – 2X.  Once in Buffalo, Once in LA
U2 – Saw them in a bar May 1982
Universal Honey
Uriah Heep – Saw multiple times.  Still one of my all time favorite bands
The Violent Femmes
The Watchmen
The Wild Strawberries
Hank Williams III – His Grandpa must be proud
Johhny Winter
Trisha Yearwood
Z.Z. Top – Saw many times, always good

What shows had meaning for you?  Please feel free to share.  I enjoy discussing this subject.



White Wedding – Literal Video

Posted by Frankly Francis on March 8, 2009 under Music/Musicians | Be the First to Comment

White Wedding: Literal Video Version – watch more funny videos

I came across this the other day, and must admit to having watched it a few times since, so I thought I’d share.



The DeadBeats

Posted by Frankly Francis on February 26, 2009 under Music/Musicians | 8 Comments to Read

The DeadBeats World Tour – Coming Soon To A Town Near You!

(L-R) u.Jimi, Fran, Eddy & Wild Bill

(L-R) u.Jimi, Fran, Eddy & Wild Bill

My latest band, The DeadBeats, is the best band ever to never perform.

With a little luck and a whole lot of lack of effort we will be able to hold on to our self-proclaimed title.

We’re working on the endorsements and merchandise deals now.

The DeadBeats don’t take themselves too seriously and neither should you.

At least I can proudly say to everyone I meet, “Hey, I’m a DeadBeat!”



Dr. John – The Night Tripper

Posted by Frankly Francis on February 3, 2009 under Music/Musicians | 3 Comments to Read

Who doesn’t remember their first concert?

Well, my first concert occurred on April 1, 1972 with Dr. John opening for Emerson, Lake & Palmer at the venerable Buffalo War Memorial Auditorium.

While I was broadly schooled in most varieties of music, Dr. John’s New Orleans style, coupled with his Mardi Gras costume and pixie dust was overwhelming to me at 15 years of age.  It changed my perceptions.

Dr. John

Dr. John

Ever since, I’ve been drawn to the music of the Big Easy: Jazz, Blues, Dixieland, Gospel, Cajun, and Zydeco.  That Voodoo sure has some draw.

If you haven’t let it into your heart and your head, I would urge you to try what you’ve been missing.  I’m not preaching and I don’t want to convert you (I got past that), but it is some wonderful stuff.

A couple of summer’s ago, I saw Dr. John perform at an outdoor venue.  Many, many years had passed since I lost my aforementioned concert virginity…

Number Two Daughter (I prefer to refer to my daughters by their birth order) went with me to the show.  Out of nowhere, I thought, it would be pretty special to meet Dr. John.

Two accompanied me in search of his tour bus.  Did I mention that it is fortunate that my daughters look like their mother?  Once found, I asked the bus door guard if we could meet Dr. John…

After a spell, the bus door guard returned and said that the Good Doctor would see us, but the Good Doctor would need a hug.  I considered this momentarily and said, “Sure, I’ll give him a hug.”  Door Guard looked at me with disdain and motioned to Two.  Realizing, I looked at her and asked, “Are you willing to take one for the team?”  Two assented (God Bless Her) and in to meet Dr. John we went…

I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed meeting him or how open and friendly he was.  I cannot begin to tell you how much natural grace and dignity he had.  I cannot begin to tell you how comfortable we were made to feel.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times he hugged Two.  I was in the Court of the King of New Orleans.  It was really special.  And I got a hug too!