Rock Aria!

carmen-image-1-aveclassics-netBizet’s Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera. You can’t get much more opera than that. At the same time, you can’t get much more rock/pop/opera than that either. Take the “Toreador Song,” or any of those gypsy dance numbers, “Habanera” or “Danse Boheme” (a.k.a. “Les tringles des sistres tintaient”). Catchy as anything and I have to say it – they rock. When Carmen premiered back in 1875, those pieces – and the opera itself – did not go over well with the conservative critics of the day. Such depravity! Even so – no, wait, because of that – an early performance of Carmen must have been quite the show to see!

queen-bohemian-rhapsody-fishki-netA hundred years later, in late 1975, a 6-minute single by the group Queen climbed to the top of the charts in their native England and several other European countries. Even here, in the fairly-boring-music-on-the-radio U. S. of A., it reached number 9. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was indeed music to my schizomusical ears the first few times I heard it. Of course it quickly became played out, then resurrected and played out again in 1992 when it was featured in Wayne’s World. But 41 years ago, what a song! Song? What the hell is it, an opera? “Mini-rock-opera” I think was the term coined.

So we don’t need to hear it again right now…but we do need to hear the below opera-inspired creations! All dating from around the same time period as “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The mid-to-late ’70s (and early ’80s) – when Rock Highway crisscrossed Opera Boulevard for a time, and produced some pretty spectacular crashes.

Bra-VO!

ROCKARIA! – Electric Light Orchestra (1976)

CELEBRATION – P.F.M. (1974)

SOMETHING FOR THE GIRL WITH EVERYTHING – Sparks (1974)

TOTAL ECLIPSE – Klaus Nomi (1981)

HOCUS POCUS – Focus (1973)

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images courtesy aveclassics.net, fishki.net, en.wikipedia.org, theirrationallyexuberant.com

videos courtesy Sony Music Entertainment, SholingBr, chris d, NEA ZIXNH, Hans Wurst/NBC’s Midnight Special

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From the outer limits (of Long Island), the sound of rock ‘n’ roll pancakes: The Walk-About

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Dreary, desolate winters in the far reaches of The Hamptons are not exactly fun ‘n’ excitement, so, growing up out there in East Quogue, I inevitably retreated into the realms of rock music – that is, the smidgeon of rock music that was available via a handful of local radio stations broadcasting from Riverhead, Patchogue, and across the sound in Connecticut. Mostly “album rock” (nowadays “classic rock”). Nearly always pleasing my ears and warming my soul like a homey, hearty stack of pancakes at any given old-time diner.

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So now…that satisfying sound of…what, rock ‘n’ roll pancakes? Ok, let’s continue that metaphor. From – yep – those outer limits of Long Island comes The Walk-About: Vocalist/harmonica-ist Darren “Sully” Sullivan, drummer Drew Bertrand, bassist Mike Perrotta, and the heart of the band, guitarist/songwriter Kevin Anderson. Mr. Anderson, another East Quogue native and self-taught musician who’s been performing solo for awhile (releasing a CD called Long Time Coming in 2015), formed The Walk-About just last year when Mr. Sullivan approached him in the paint department of Home Depot, where Mr. Anderson worked. With the addition of the Bertrand/Perrotta rhythm section, the band was up and running in no time…and are now putting the finishing touches on their debut album.

the_walk-about                   l – r:  Mike Perrotta, Kevin Anderson, Darren “Sully” Sullivan, Drew Bertrand

And from that forthcoming album… a friendly acoustic guitar/harmonica intro that hearkens back to those album-rock days. Rugged vocals that recall both Jim Morrison and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant. A peppy chorus that will most certainly have you singing along. It’s “Traveler” and it’s a tasty, steaming antidote to the chilling midwinter that has once again come upon us. But make no mistake, this is not just a 2017 re-hash of 1970s rock. There are no wailing, Clapton-esque electric guitar solos. Not even an electric guitar. Mr. Anderson’s preference is amplified acoustic, and on “Traveler” it’s the perfect cushion underneath Sully’s urgent singing, the perfect power-pack that drives the song along until its five minutes are up and you want to hear it again. Or the perfectly grilled pancake that makes you crave another one! Check it out here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/traveler-single/id1190524021

https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/thewalkabout

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And check out the band’s live show later this year, at places like the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett and other East End venues…hey, hopefully here in NYC even!

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Group photos from the band’s Facebook page.
Other photos courtesy lipulse.com and metalinjection.net