Stripped Down questions: Fall 2016

Because previous Stripped Down Q&A posts often receive hits on this blog, I thought I’d post more recent questions since those most of the questions on those previous posts have already been answered.

So with some upcoming Stripped Down shows coming up (with the Q&A sessions that follow), here’s what I want to know (in case you happen to be searching for some questions and then feel like posting a video of the Q&A session on YouTube…)

  1. When is “Traces” scheduled to be released?
  2. How close are we to the sequel to “Magnificent Vibration”?
  3. Any plans for a sequel to “Late, Late at Night” or any other kind of book?
  4. Have you been working on any new songs lately and if so, what kinds of songs?
  5. What was your mom’s response when you told her you’d be playing Lucifer?
  6. How did you get involved in the Rock Meets Classic tour in Germany and what do you need to do to prepare for that? Will you be performing your songs with a symphony?
  7. What are you looking forward to most about your upcoming fan getaway in the Bahamas?

There are several other questions I have for him, but most are really none of my business and I wouldn’t actually ask him those. Oh, and although there may be a slight possibility that he’s changed his mind about returning to “General Hospital,” his response to that often-asked question is usually, “No,” so maybe skip that question this time…

(I hope to someday attend another Stripped Down show one of these days if he comes back to town with one, but meanwhile I’ve enjoyed all the pics and videos people have posted – thank you to all those generous fans who share them!)

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Live concert streams

Having all the live Rick Springfield concert streams available these past few days – both the Atlantic City show on his official Facebook page and others on fan pages – really helps with concert withdrawals.

Although I didn’t actually watch the videos live because I was out on a day trip with my family and watched them later that night, the whole concept still amazes me. To be able to sit at home and watch a live concert as it’s happening still blows my 13-year-old fangirl self’s mind. It makes it really clear how our lives have changed in the past few decades.

The live streams often offer a better view than you’d get if you had seats further back at the actual concert, which is fun, and you get to see little details that happen, such as a string breaking during “Jessie’s Girl” and RS improvising to get through the song. Seeing him perform live really emphasizes what an amazing performer he is.

On the live streams, you can also comment throughout and it’s fun to see where some people are watching it from – last night I saw comments from Singapore and Sydney among the posts.

The only downside watching from home is there’s no chance of getting any “Human Touch” or making eye contact or running into him after the show.

The idea of watching concerts live as they happen without being there is something that I would have never even dreamed about as a teen so who knows what technology will bring in the future. In case there are any techies reading this who know how to make things happen, here are some ideas:

1. Virtual concert – similar to virtual conference calls where you hold meetings with people anywhere in the world and it looks like you are sitting at the same table, how about virtual concerts? There’ll be a place you can log in and then there will be a big screen at the concert where you can see the performer and the performer can see you, just as he or she would see those in the room. This way people all over the world can see their favorite artist in person even if the tour doesn’t reach them. And then you can enjoy the real or imagined eye contact.

2. Virtual meet and greets – This technology already exists in some form, via Skype and Facetime-type programs, so why not extend it to Meet and Greets? Maybe a virtual hug, too?

Neither of these things can replace being at a live show of course, but it’s better than nothing. Thanks to RS Official and to other fans for sharing their concert experience!

Notes of nostalgia

Between adjusting to the back-to-school routine and some major changes at work, I totally missed the two-year anniversary of this blog.

Normally I would do recaps and reflections and yadda, yadda, yadda, but I’ve already done a few of those already (yes a few, even though it’s only been two years, since there’s the year-end recap and the anniversary recap).

So I’ll just type out a few notes of nostalgia and be done with it.

I remember so clearly that day at work two summers ago when I was checking the TV listings of our local PBS station to clarify information for our newspaper’s calendar. And then there at the bottom of the screen was a video promoting a recent interview with Rick Springfield. I knew I’d have to check that out, and did so a couple of evenings later. I was shocked to find out he had just released a novel and before that, an autobiography. Although I was a huge fan when I was younger and still cranked up “Jessie’s Girl” when it came on the radio, I hadn’t followed his career in years and had no idea what ever became of him.

I immediately put both books on hold at the local library and did some Googling to find out what he’d been up to. Watching YouTube interviews brought back so many memories that had long been buried, such as song lyrics and the way RS used to lick his lips during interviews.

After reading his documentary, “Late, Late at Night,” I recreated my reading experience by putting together a little blog with links to the videos illustrating some of the stories he told: Late, Late at Night Musical Journey. Next I started this blog, My Rick Springfield Crush, because I was so excited about rediscovering my favorite rock star, but nobody else in my real life was all that interested. I never imagined that two years later – and 212 posts later (this one is #213) I’d still be writing it. I had no idea there’d be so many new things to write about: two CDs (The “Stripped Down CD/DVD” and “Rocket Science”), two movies (“Ricki and the Flash” and “Traces”), TV shows (“True Detective” and “Supernatural”), as well as numerous interviews and concerts.  And even when I formally ended the blog about 20 posts ago, I still found myself coming back to write more.

The same week I saw that initial interview in July 2014, I learned that he would be in town for a concert a few days later, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to afford the tickets (and I also found out he’d been in town earlier in the year to promote “Magnificent Vibration” at a local bookstore. Obviously I was oblivious.) Nearly two years later, I was in the second row at the same venue and got a picture with him after the show. In between those two shows, I had seen him in concert five other times – briefly meeting him twice. I guess you might say I got a little hooked (Or you might say something else. Whatever).

Well, this post became a little more recap-y than I intended and I haven’t even written anything about RS has inspired me in other aspects of my life. Fortunately if anybody is interested, it’s already been covered in previous posts. You can even start back down in the August 2014 archives and read all the way back up to today if you want to. There are lots of good RS pictures and videos embedded along the way.

For anyone who is still reading (the current number of all-time views is 15,613, which means there are LOTS of people searching for information about Rick Springfield), thank you. 

Singin’ the blues

Although the title of this post would be fitting for how I feel about not having the means to go on the “Rick Springfield and Friends” fan getaway in the Bahamas this November, that’s not what this post is about.

No, it’s about an article that was on Billboard.com today that RS plans to work on a blues album next.

“I love slide guitar, and most people don’t know it because I don’t really play it onstage,” Springfield says. “I play [Hambone Willie Newbern’s] ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin” in my solo show, and I always get guys saying, ‘You should do a blues album.’ And I was thinking about writing something as opposed to just doing copies of blues songs that everybody’s done. I’m all for expanding people’s views, y’know?”


Here’s a video of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’ ” from the Stripped Down show I saw last year (it’s not my video – I found it on YouTube and the video it would be much blurrier if it was mine – but I was in the Fox Tucson Theatre  when it was being filmed and met him briefly after the show.)

When I first heard last year that he was working on a country album, I was a little wary, as I’ve never been a big fan of country music. But “Rocket Science” has become one of my favorite albums of all time.

Since I’m much more a fan of blues than I am country, today’s news is pretty exciting! I wouldn’t say I’m a blues aficionado, but I’ve been fortunate to see B.B. King, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and Eric Clapton perform live. Plus, my husband is a big blues fan and RS playing the blues is his favorite part of the RS shows he’s seen so maybe he’ll be more eager to go to another one with me in the future.

The Billboard article also talks about the 35th anniversary of “Working Class Dog” (have you seen the collector’s-edition guitar that celebrates that anniversary? It’s really cool-looking and one lucky fan can get it at each show – along with a meet-and-greet – for a mere $2,500.) And of course the article also addresses his upcoming role as Lucifer on “Supernatural.”

And if a full-band tour, a solo tour, a new movie and a role on a popular TV show isn’t enough, apparently he’s headed to Germany next year with the Rock Meets Classic tour – where American rockers perform with a symphony orchestra. Also on the tour are members/former members of The Eagles, Toto, Uriah Heep and Magnum. The tour visits 15 German arenas from March 30 to April 18. RS is listed as a “very special guest.”

 

 

Birthday season

Similar to the idea that Christmas decorations start making an appearance in stores around Halloween, Rick Springfield’s birthday season has begun, although his birthday is more than a month away (Aug. 23).

At a concert last week, a round of “Happy Birthday” was an unofficial part of the set list and dedicated fans have kicked off The 2016 Rick Springfield Birthday Charity Campaign.

His fans started raising money for charity back in 2007 – generated by his return to “General Hospital” that year that had a fundraising component  tied to the show. Over the years, it has morphed into an annual birthday campaign – since 2007, the effort has raised over $80,000 for charity.

Last year’s campaign raised $18,666.

The fans raise money for a charity of RS’s choice – he has requested that people donate to charity rather than spend money on gifts for him. This year’s charity is the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation, which provides a safe haven for the animals it rescues. And as any RS fan knows, he loves dogs. So, in a sense, this fundraiser helps him carry out his early aspirations of being a veterinarian because money given in his honor is helping so many dogs.

The fan-driven campaign officially began on July 15 and continues through Sept. 3 (although if I recall correctly, there were still rounds of “Happy Birthday” sang at October shows last year.)

All donations will receive raffle tickets and this year’s grand prize is “Rockin’ with Rick,” a soundcheck for two. There are other prizes, too, donated by fans. For entry rules and prize information, visit happybirthdayrick.com.

And what is the birthday boy up to as he reaches retirement-age-plus 2? He seems to be making up for the time he took off back in the 1980s/1990s and doesn’t appear to be slowing down at all. He’s currently on a summer tour and doing some filming for an acting gig. (Update on July 24: It was confirmed today that RS will appear as rock star Vince Vincente/Lucifer on the “Supernatural” TV series.) Probably doing some writing during his travel time, too.

He’s received some nice press on his current tour, a nice change from the “‘Jessie’s Girl’ singer is coming to town” headlines that seemed much more prevalent two years ago when I started this blog. Check out this beautiful blog post on The Huffington Post written by a mom/longtime fan: Celebrating Youth: 9 Year Old Boy With Autism Rocks Out on Drums, While Rick Springfield Leads the Crowd in Singing Happy Birthday to His 7 Year Old Sister. The blog post includes a video of this sweet encounter.

He also received some press about his appearance in Cleveland earlier this week, a charity concert held at the same time as the Republican National Convention. Rather than spew any political opinions, he simply performed a hit-filled, high-energy concert and wore a T-shirt that said, “Not an endorsement.” A wise move, I thought.

Since I don’t have any concerts lined up for the RS birthday season, I’ll just extend my birthday greetings here (yes, my 13-year-old self that generates this blog sometimes pretends that RS actually reads it): Happy birthday! Your fans are glad you’re alive and we appreciate all the joy you bring to the world!

 

 

33 years since ‘Living in Oz’?!

Living in Oz

My bedroom door in 1983.

Hearing that today marks 33 years since “Living in Oz” was released made me feel really nostalgic. Thirty-three years?! That’s how old Rick Springfield was in 1983 when the album came out (the month before his 34th birthday). And when I say album, I mean an actual record album. And do you notice the cassette tape cover on the promotion poster?

And if he was 33 that year, that means I was 13. Thirteen!!! How can that be 33 years ago?! It’s still one of my favorite RS albums and “Souls” is one of my all-time favorite RS songs.

On the upside, who would have guessed that 33 years (33 YEARS!!!) after I taped this poster on my 13-year-old self’s bedroom door that I would be writing this blog post – nevermind the fact that none of us had ever heard of a blog at that time – 10 days after I saw that guy on the poster perform “Affair of the Heart” and “Human Touch” live during his summer bus tour (along with new music)? 

That’s pretty cool.

 

Summer tour rolls on

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RS and team are off on their summer tour and I was fortunate to see one of their first shows on the tour – at Comerica Theatre in Phoenix this past weekend.

I had plans with my family for earlier in the evening so when my friend and I got inside, The Romantics were finishing their last song. Part of the delay had to do with all the roads closed off downtown for a civil rights protest and the parking garage being on the other side of the closed roads. At one point, the protesters were facing us as we turned down one street. Fortunately the demonstration was still peaceful at that time.

I hadn’t told my friend – who I went to a RS concert with last year, as well as a few times in high school and during the Karma tour – where our tickets were so it was fun to surprise her as we got directed to the second row. It was also fun to meet a fellow fan that I had chatted with on Facebook before – coincidentally our seats were right next to each other.

It was a great show with a wonderful view – toward the end we made our way to an empty spot directly in front of the stage – and I even got two seconds of the human touch, a quick tap on my fingers as he walked by. I forgot to reset the settings on my phone for concert conditions and most of my photos and videos are blurry so I won’t bother posting them here.

Afterward, my friend and I hung out outside for awhile catching up. We’ve known each other more than 30 years and although our schedules don’t allow us to get together much, we always have a great time together. It was very quiet outside the theater with no sign of the earlier protests, but with a quick check on our phones, we saw that about a mile or so away, the demonstration was no longer peaceful. Police were in riot gear and there were reports of tear gas being used on the demonstrators who were trying to close down the freeway. It was sad to hear that as we were enjoying our concert inside, anger and  hatred was manifesting into violence not too far away. I had hoped that it would remain a peaceful demonstration and am grateful to those officers who prevented it from getting any worse.

In fact, with all the anger and hate manifesting in violence all around the world these days, music is such a refuge from it all, as are movies, TV shows and other forms of entertainment. I’m grateful to all of those performers who add love and laughter to the world or else it would be too overwhelming.

That being said, I sometimes feel a bit shallow spending so much time writing a fan blog, when there are so many other things going on in the world, but I guess this is my little refuge for now.

Anyway, back to the evening of the show. Despite believing I can just leave one of his concerts without at least trying to run into RS afterward, I failed again. My friend and I ended up hanging out awhile and once he came out, I – along with about 20 or so other people – approached him and I was able to get a quick selfie with him. There was no time to say anything besides, “Can I have a picture?” and I ended up feeling a little guilty because it was late and he probably just wanted to get inside his bus, have a glass of red wine and go to sleep.

It occurred to me afterward that RS gets his picture taken with so many people during his tours and he has no idea what is going on in the person’s head. Whether it’s “Oh cool, I’m getting my picture taken with Dr. Noah Drake,” “Wow, I can’t believe this is the guy who sings ‘Jessie’s Girl,'” “Wow, I had posters of this guy all over my walls in high school and now I’m meeting him!” “This is the person whose music got me through so many difficult times in my life” or people who have read every line of his autobiography, watched/heard numerous interviews with him and know more about him than they probably know about anybody else in their own life. (Or whether they’ve spent the past two years blogging about him – ha ha.)

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There are probably some ways he can determine the different levels of fan-ness, such as those who bring album covers to sign or other artifacts from his career. Or when he casually mentions during a show that peanut butter stops his hiccups and somebody in the front row hands him a little package of peanut butter (yes, that happened at the Phoenix show.)

Fortunately he seems to recognize that his fans may not be able to express their feelings and appreciation for him when they’re standing right in front of him and he’s still gracious to them.

Wishing RS and his band and crew a wonderful – and safe – tour!

 

The show must go on, with or without lemons

As I read the reviews of SummerFest show on July 2 in Ketterling, Ohio, two phrases got stuck in my head: “The show must go on” and “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

RS has exemplified the first phrase many times – he’s often put on amazing shows even when sick – and it’s rare that he cancels a show (he had to cancel one last week on doctor’s orders and occasionally the weather doesn’t cooperate). But this past Saturday night, two members of his band and his sound guy didn’t make it to the show on time – due to flight delays and cancellations and plane malfunctions, totaling more than 30 hours in travel time – but did he let his fans down?

Noooo! He started out with an acoustic set – a taste of his Stripped Down tour, apparently – and then the bassist from one of the other bands playing that night – Night Ranger’s Jack Blades – came to help out. Since he didn’t know RS songs, they played songs they both knew – and rocked the place, by all accounts – then when the band showed up 30 minutes before the noise ordinance kicked in – they jammed through the hits and finished up by the curfew. (For more details about the show, check out this review and this great recap video).

This shows what a pro he is at this rock-star role. I wonder how many of today’s artists would be able to pull off doing an unexpected show like this.

Anyway, as far as the lemons go, I’m sure the travel delays and late luggage (photos from that night’s concert show RS wearing a “Rocket Science” T-shirt sold at the merchandise table) weren’t much fun for those involved, the willingness to improvise and go on with the show – and still give an amazing performance – won him some new fans, according to some of the Facebook posts I read.

(And that’s why the phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” came to mind, in case that wasn’t clear.) Kind of like the origin of the song “Down,” off the new “Rocket Science” album  – written with Jay DeMarcus of the Rascal Flatts after an ice storm caused planes to be grounded and so RS ended up catching a ride back to Nashville on DeMarcus’s tour bus and it was during this ride that they wrote the song.

Since everyone’s life has its share of lemons, I thought this past weekend’s show was a nice reminder that unexpected challenges can sometimes bring unexpected sweetness.

SpringFIELD

Now that there’s been an announcement of this summer’s tour, the next round of interviews are bound to happen as RS heads to different cities around the country. And fans will undoubtedly hear variations of the following:

“I just heard an interview with that musician you like, what’s his name?  Rick Springsteen?”

I know, most people don’t pay that close attention to our favorite rock star as much as his fans do, but is it really that confusing? Is it only because they are both rock musicians who both have last names that start with “Spring” that people mix them up so much?

It’s usually harmless, albeit annoying, but there was a case earlier this year when an article posted about Bruce Springsteen cancelling a North Carolina concert was posted with a photo of RS. Whoops. But then there was some hateful posts against RS because of Bruce’s decision.

They did come into America’s spotlight around the same time. RS’s big breakthrough was in 1981 with “Working Class Dog” and Bruce’s cover story on Time Magazine (referenced in the 1980 RS song “Bruce”) was in  1975 after “Born to Run.”

They also entered the world the same year, a month apart: RS was born – as Richard Springthorpe – on  Aug. 23, 1949 and Bruce was born that year on Sept. 23.

They also both have a song called “Human Touch.”

But I still don’t get all the confusion.

Good thing RS seems to have a sense of humor about it (as his song “Bruce” seems to convey).

So here’s a tip for those who confuse the two: The title of Bruce Springsteen’s most well-known album and single is “Born in the U.S.A.” Rick Springfield was born in Australia.

Maybe RS should go back to using his Australian accent when doing interviews?

 

Remembering Ruben

Sadness permeates the RS community this week with the loss of guitar tech Ruben Velasco, who lost his battle with lung cancer at age 41 on May 31.

Even though it was known he was sick – he was first diagnosed in 2014 – it still comes as a shock because it always is when somebody that young dies.

What started as a fan effort to raise funds to help pay for medical expenses has now become a memorial fund to help his family pay for the medical bills and for his funeral. Learn more about the Still Rockin’ for Ruben Memorial Fund on at weloverickspringfield.com. Donations can be made on the YouCaring page.

As another way to help Ruben’s family, the RS team is doing a fundraiser for the upcoming summer tour: “The Rick Springfield ‘Rock for Ruben’ Backstage Experience.” This backstage experience for two includes an option to assist the crew as an honorary guitar tech during soundcheck and during the actual show, a photo opportunity with RS, an autographed guitar signed by RS to bring home, two limited-edition “Rock for Ruben” baseball caps and two functioning laminated backstage passes. The cost for this is $2,000. Learn more here. (See tour dates here.)

And tonight, Rowdy Ron – who is wrapping up his online radio show this weekend – is dedicating tonight’s show to Ruben by playing the hard rock music he loved. Tune in to “Remembering Ruben” at 9 p.m. EST here.

My condolences to Ruben’s family and friends.