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Tuesday, 10 July 2018 10:10

Greta Van Fleet Rock N’ Roll is not dead

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Take me to the river, throw me in and baptize me and if a spaceship happens to stop by please put me on board as I have seen the future and it is...  

Greta Van Fleet delivered the goods as only fresh young talent can do in a big and electrifying way and that was only the first song “Highway Tune” that they opened this sold out Coachella Side Show June 24, 2018 concert with. They really rocked up the place.  

This refreshing band of three brothers Josh, Jake and Sam Kiszka and schoolmate Danny Wagner hit all the right notes and gave a legion of rock fans something to believe in…Rock N’ Roll is not dead.  

It appears that  Greta Van Fleet are the precursors to a renaissance of the younger generation’s creative juices.  

The audience was varied from oldsters to youngsters and they were all happy and rocking in the aisles spreading their infectious energy throughout the tribe that had gathered to hear this amazing band strut their stuff and without a doubt spread the word that the Bardic tradition set forth many centuries ago was alive and well in Greta Van Fleet. 
 
Articulate, creative and educated, this band is the product of careful nurturing and well-traveled road edginess.  Sure their double EP “From The Fires” sounds awesome and is a good enough reason to put them in a strong rotation on one’s iPod, but as I always ask “Are they any good live?”  
 
Leappin’ Lizards Batman, their audience was proof of their due diligence to fancy fretwork and an almost honky-tonk piano with some really progressive sounds.  These guys impressively relate to one another as they go through their paces. 

Greta Van Fleet delivered what I consider to be a flawless performance and are deserving of the keys to the city.  

As one of the rockers that helped to build this City Of Angels on Rock N’ Roll it is my desire to hand over those keys and hitching my rep to their unstoppable momentum…points included. 
 
There has been a lot of comparison to Led Zeppelin and in some cases angry words, and threats concerning some obscure “secret” organization’s retaliation, for liking this group. What a bunch of malarkey.  Let’s face it friends Led Zeppelin has not written and recorded anything new in decades and they have been pretty clear about their remaining members not wanting to tour as Led Zeppelin again.  There have been lots of remasters released and books published, but nothing new.  Besides, how many times have Led Zeppelin been sued over intellectual property infringement?
 
Greta Van Fleet has given credit to those that inspired them and Led Zeppelin is on that list of credits.  Led Zeppelin is not the only influence or inspiration that I hear when listening to Greta Van Fleet.  I hear the influence and inspiration of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton to name just a few.  Greta Van Fleet has taken the Bardic tradition and learned from the masters and have put their own spin on it and I think that Euterpe, Muse of music and lyrics, would agree.  Also, there are only so many notes and chord progressions and that pops up in conversations all of the time.  
 
Because three of their influences are former members of The Yardbirds, it is important to remember they were about musical and technical innovation and pushing the boundaries of standard Rock N’ Roll. At a recent Yardbird concert, I was reminded of that fact as I rocked to their familiar sounds. As an avid rocker, I’ve seen all these guys in concert.
 
Recently A&R executives and industry insiders have been advising music civilians, avid fans and professionals to listen to the new music coming out ( ie Greta Van Fleet) with open ears and an open mind.  Still others in the business have basically said lead, follow or get out of the way as a change is coming. Most notable in that sector is Leon Luis, Producer & CEO Altar Boy Music USA, Altar Boy Music UK LTD and UK Sync Manager for Jet Pack Artist Ventures. This is all good advice because music is making a turn with a twist and we all must be able to enjoy the ride to the promised land of music revenues.  Greta Van Fleet is leading the pack.
 
As for the band, they like playing golf while on the road to relax and like shopping in thrift stores while at home and on the road.  If shopping in thrift stores is what provides these “young bucks,” as drummer Wagner describes them, with the needed attire that presents an impressive presence on stage, then so be it.  I was totally amazed and almost fell out of my chair when I heard the drummer pipe up with “rock isn’t just a genre, it’s a lifestyle” when fielding a question from a DJ. This is something I said a few decades ago when writing a dissertation on the nature and character of music and Rock  in particular.  The minute that Wagner took his shirt off during their show, I knew that we had something in common. That is in addition to his peace sign necklace…I also have one.
 
The Kiszka brothers are Josh, lead singer; Jake, guitar and Sam piano and bass guitar.  Each of the four members has “brought it” to the band and their fledgling effort “Highway Tune” provides an instant insight into this band’s ability to craft a song. Not only is the song a deal maker, it validates that Greta Van Fleet has developed a sound that has a strong backbeat that tends to surround you with their eclectic style.
 
Interestingly, Wagner has compared himself to The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr in that Ringo had walked into a situation of members already being bonded and so it was with the Kiszka brothers that were already bonded as brothers tend to be. 
 
When the band was queried about how Josh was able to hit such high notes, brother Sam wisecracked that it happened when Josh encountered a snake. One would have to be living under a rock for the past year to not have heard this lively band of brothers plus one, but just in case someone hasn’t I’ll explain a bit of background of these vagabond musicians.
 
Greta Van Fleet named themselves after an “Elder" woman that lives in their hometown.  The guys describe her as being in her 80s and have recently met up with her.  They have said that her name is Dutch.  Why her name? They heard someone in their family mention her and a light went on. Also, the band has been together since 2012 and have played pizza parlors and biker bars in their Bavarian hometown of Frankenmuth, MI where they played cover tunes which includes Led Zeppelin.
 
This past year  Greta Van Fleet has been burning up the radio airwaves giving engaging interviews and performing live; been on magazine covers;  are the talk of Coachella, their release “Black Smoke rising” has topped Billboard Magazine’s US Mainstream list for four weeks in September 2017 and have appeared on Carson Daly’s Last Call where they performed “Flower Power.”
 
Hats off to those that have aided in the development and marketing of this intense band of musicians who have brought back hope for fans of Rock.
*Regrettably, the camera required to shoot photos of this band was unavailable.
 
###
 
When Cyndi Lauper first came out in 1983 I did possess her cassette tape “She’s So Unusual” and gave it a lot of play.  For me “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was an anthem for that time period.
 
It is embarrassing for me to admit, but I have never seen Lauper in concert.
 
Ms. Kinky Boots entered the stage behind a white curtain emblazoned with her facial likeness that revealed her shadow dancing and when the curtain came down, she launched into “I Drove All Night" which set the tone for the rest of her performance…one that gave me goosebumps.
 
In spite of the fact that she is in her 60s, Lauper can still belt out a tune with passion and clarity. Lauper delivered a wonderfully entering set that got her audience warmed up for the act to follow…Rod Stewart.
 
The concert’s opening night had been sold out and I was lucky enough to get in. By the time the raspy-voiced Stewart entered the stage, the Hollywood Bowl was packed with hardcore fans that were eager to let Stewart know that they were there and wanted and expected to have a fantastic time.  Stewart made good on that expectation by delivering a strong performance at the ripe old age of 73.  Stewart’s voice is still crooning in it’s unique and raspy way and belting out songs that cross genre boundaries.  Stewart performed songs from his youth and thanked those that were there who still like him as well as going over a few concerts that I attended and the last time I saw him in concert.  Did he read my recent column on him?
 
Dancing and singing, Stewart’s fans were appreciative of his welcoming demeanor and willingness to hand off the mic to his audience to sing missing words to songs.  Stewart introduced a song about an Irish rebel, Joseph Plunkett, who created an Easter Uprising in 1916 In Ireland.  The “Story of Grace”  tells of Plunkett and Grace Gifford his intended.  Plunkett was caught and sentenced to be executed.  Plunkett asks to marry Gifford before he’s put to death and is granted the right to wed Gifford. It is unsettling to hear this song, but sure tugs at your heartstrings.  From what I understand this song started being performed recently and Stewart told his audience to listen to the song as they had never heard it before. 

The Scottish rocker was Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2016 and can now be referred to as Sir Rod Stewart.  The Knighthood was granted for his contributions to music and charities and the honor is called a “CBE.”  
 
****For a set list of either concert please go to setlist.fm
Read 2425 times Last modified on Monday, 23 July 2018 12:04
Caroline McElroy

The muse struck at a young age and began with Ernie's Record Shop on Lankershim Blvd. In North Hollywood where I purchased my first Beatle record "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and a record by Major Lance titled "Um,Um,Um,Um,Um,Um". From there I saw the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl and I was hooked...on Rock N' Roll. At the age of 13 it seems as if the magical world of Rock N' Roll opened up and welcomed me. A trip to Indio with Frank Zappa and possee, and subsequent gigs as a dancer at The Teen Fairs at the Hollywood Palladium sealed the deal. As a trained journalist, I've written for magazines, newsletters,newspapers and blogs. In addition, I have run a nightclub by the name of The Cave. Music is the thread that weaves a patchwork quilt of genres, venues and experience out of my life and in the process have introduced many fine acts to my followers.

For the rest of my story dear readers, read my articles and it will unfold like the petals of a lotus flower. 

 

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1 comment

  • Comment Link Music Maven Tuesday, 10 July 2018 17:23 posted by Music Maven

    The Cyndi Lauper part was badly edited by someone else and not me. Don’t know how this came to be. I own my errors and this isn’t one of them. My apologies.
    Someone has suggested that I listen to Mike Watt.

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