Monday, September 29, 2008

Everybody's heroes

Here's yet another reason why Rush are my boys who NEVER disappoint. The cool factor with this band only lengthens over time. Here is a story by this cancer patient, who was approached by the Make a Wish Foundation:

Samantha is a 16-year-old Rush fan from Summerville, Georgia who was diagnosed with cancer back in August of 2007. 3 months into her treatment she was approached by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and asked how they could help to make her wish come true. The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. They've granted wishes to 1000s of children since their inception in 1980 and are run entirely on donations. Samantha's wish was to meet her favorite band - Rush. This marked the first time Rush had ever been approached for a Make-A-Wish request. Here is Samantha's amazing story in her own words.

Wish Granted
I looked out to where, soon, 10,000 people would be standing to hear the band that I was about to meet. It was surreal. Ever since I was four, I had dreamed of meeting them. I had wanted to meet them for most of my life. As I grew, they became some of my heroes. Then when I was diagnosed with cancer in August of 2007, my world changed. The one thing that remained consistent was my family and their music. Three months into treatment, Make-a-Wish, a nonprofit organization, came to me and told me that I had a wish. I could do anything but get a car or a swimming pool. The things that I could do were numerous. I thought about it until the day they came to get my wish. Finally making my decision, I told them that I wanted to meet Rush.
The morning of July 20th, we went to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Charlotte, North Carolina. We met with the head of security the band liaison, Kevin Ripa, who gave my family and I a tour of the stage, backstage and the dressing rooms. I got to meet the techs for the band: Bucky, the guitar tech, Gump, the drum tech, and Russ, the bass and keyboard tech. I even got to sit at Neil Peart's drum kit and hold Alex Lifeson's 1976 Gibson es355. After that we went to the back to wait for the bands arrival. I sat in on a security meeting and then I went back onto the stage to meet them. I first saw Geddy Lee. I was in awe. He smiled and gave me a hug. We started to talk a little when I saw a man in a white shirt and baseball cap come up. I did not notice who it was at first, thought he was just some guy, then I looked again. It was Neil Peart, one of my heroes. My emotions overcame me and I started to cry. At that point Neil gave me a hug. The last to arrive on stage was Alex Lifeson. He was a good natured person and a fun person to talk to. I told him that I listened to the song "Hope" over and over during my chemo treatments and the song meant a lot to me. That made him smile. After a little talking, the band went to their respective parts of the stage for the sound check. I went off the stage and to the rail at the front row. They played a few songs including Subdivisions, The Trees, and Ghost of a Chance. I then took a moment to take in where I was and what I was doing. I engraved everything on my mind, forgetting all else. It was like being in a perfect world filled with music. I went back on stage and Alex played the song Hope for me, which made me cry because of what it meant to me during my treatment. When the sound check was over, the band signed a few things including my copy of "Roadshow". Neil signed it "To Samantha, You can get back on! Neil Peart" I told him that my illness was like the lyrics in Farcry that go "some days I feel I'm ahead of the wheel and the next it's rolling over me". Neil also gave me the sticks he used for the sound check. Alex and Geddy gave me a bunch of picks. Geddy also gave me a "Henhouse" t-shirt. All generous gifts. I was also able to tell the band what their music has meant to me and my family, and also thank them for it. Then, the meet was over. It was an amazing 2 hours for me and my family. But the night was just beginning.
We went to the concert we had 5th row seats. During the first couple of songs, Kevin Ripa called me up on stage. After the song Ghost Of A Chance, Geddy walked up to the mic to talk to the crowd for the first time of the night. After saying hello, he mentioned that they had "a ton of material" for the crowd. He then said "but first, we would like to dedicate this next song to my friend Sam, this is from Hold Your Fire it's called Mission". Mission is one of my very favorite songs and Geddy told me while we were talking that it was his favorite song to play. For the third time that day, I cried. Watching the band play that song from on stage was overwhelming especially since they were playing it for me. The rest concert was phenomenal, and the day was one that I will never forget. My Dad and I also attended the Atlanta show 2 days later (THANKS PHILLIP!). I met many people there that were also at the Charlotte show that asked me about the song dedication. I was nice meeting everyone. I just told them that Make-A-Wish and Rush made it all possible. It was an unreal couple of days! Thank you Rush and thank you Make-A-Wish!
Make-a-Wish is an organization that grants once an a lifetime "wishes" to children with diseases like Cancer, Spina Abifida, Sickle Cell Animea, and other illnesses. It is an amazing organization. They made this such a special day for me and did everything in their power to make an awesome experience. The organization runs entirely on donations. If you would like to donate, see inspiring stories, or volunteer go to
At last I would like to give a list of my favorite Rush songs
* Resist
* Mission
* Test for Echo
* Summertime Blues
* Working Them Angels
* Totem
* Hope
* Far Cry
* Malignant Narcissism
* Second Nature
* Marathon
* Force Ten
* Everyday Glory
My favorite albums are Test for Echo and Snakes and Arrows.
Thank you for letting me tell my story.
Samantha Dyar
I'm happy to say that Sam celebrated her 6th month of remission on August 16th and is doing great! Her father John also supplied some more details about the meeting which lasted for about 2 hours including sound check. They toured the dressing rooms and all around the stage and their family were the only people there during the sound check. Sam had an all access pass for the show and Rush's tour photographer John Arrowsmith followed her and her family around, taking several pictures many of which you can check out here. They also got to spend some time with Rush's lighting director Howard Ungerleider. Except for the few songs she was on stage, Sam watched the entire show from the rail (she liked the sound better out front). Sam's first Rush concert was during the Test for Echo tour when she was only 5 and she has seen Rush live a total of 10 times. Her very first concert was the Grateful Dead at age 4. Be sure to check out all the pictures from the meeting at this location. The expressions on Sam's face really speak for how magical of an experience this was for her. Many thanks to her, her family, Rush and the Make-A-Wish Foundation for allowing me to share this with everyone.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is run entirely on donations. For information on how you can help, please visit this link.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Kaoss Pad

You might recall a few posts back about how I was at Radiohead last month, where guitarists /multi-instrumentalists Jonny Greenwood and Ed O'Brien were noodling around onstage with this funny little gadget during some of the was mainly Jonny's thing, though. While I was close to the stage, I was far enough back to where I couldn't really make out what in the heck he was all hunched over and playing around with at certain times. At first, it looked rather silly to see him kneeling down to play with what turned out to be this little gadget called the Kaoss the time I was baffled enough that it might as well been an Atari joystick. I'm still a little confused on why it needed to be operated on the ground...maybe it would have looked even more ridiculous being performed on something like a podium. Nevertheless, while it looked uncomfortable and awkward down there, it created some very unusual and trippy sounds. Maybe the live shot of Radiohead at the end of this post will reveal a bit into the mysteries of this device. It seems like something that might be more helpful in the studio, but there's obviously an improvisation value to it's use onstage. It seems to do quite a few things, but notably it allows the user to isolate certain sounds so they can be morphed, distorted, or looped. It appears to require some serious reading of an instruction manual...maybe THAT'S why he had it on the ground. He was reading the friggin' manual on how to operate the damn thing. Then again, maybe not. The thought's at least worth a chuckle. Radiohead actually ended their set that night with a continuous Kaoss Pad loop that the two guitarists programmed live...the roadies literally had to come out to "shut them off." I can't say I've seen anything like that before. So check out these gadgets in a live gig below here...for anyone who's ever listened to the live version of "Everything in its Right Place" off Radiohead's Live: I Might Be Wrong CD -- and couldn't figure out what in the heck was going on (myself included) -- this helps to explain things. Beyond that, you can read up about it's technical and highly detailed specs, which I refuse to bore you with. S

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Remembering Rick Wright, Floyd's soulful dove

Rick Wright: the mortar that held the bricks together in Floyd's sound
The soulful dove of Pink Floyd has left us and gone to "The Great Gig in the Sky."

If Roger Waters gave Floyd it's edge, and David Gilmour gave the band it's grace, then Wright gave the band it's soul and feel.

In my opinion, his wizardry on the keys is the main component to Pink Floyd's sound.

Sonically, he set the mood for the band's music. To lay the mortar between Gilmour's guitar work and Waters' outside-the-box lyrics to perfect form in the way that he did -- while keeping mellow in light of hardcore band politics and infighting -- is really nothing short of amazing.

Anyone who's a fan of the band and knows their catalog would understand his contribution and what it means.

So long, Rick...give Syd our best. We love and miss you both. S

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rick Wright of Pink Floyd passes

The sky was the limit: Pink Floyd in the heady Syd Barrett days
This has been a bizarre day, to say the least.

Richard Wright (the guy leaning over the railing, far right), the keyboardist and a founding member of Pink Floyd, apparently died of cancer today.

This comes just two years after the death of Syd Barrett, the co-founder of the band who gave Pink Floyd its name (standing next to Wright).

First, my condolences to Wright's family and friends, and those who love this band.

This is VERY HARSH news for Floyd fans, not only due to the loss of Wright in and of itself, but also to the fact that his death represents no chance anymore that there could be any reunion tour.

That being said, here's what makes the news of Wright's death today even more bizarre...this article that ALSO CAME OUT TODAY with David Gilmour, who was talking about the prospect (or no prospect, depending on how you read into it) of a Floyd reunion tour. The article must have been release hours before the news of Wright's passing.

Since the Live 8 reunion over three years ago, rumors had been swirling around about a reunion tour with this wasn't likely, but it was always possible. I can now say that it's theoretically impossible that Floyd will ever form to tour without Wright. I simply can't see that happening.

Unfortunately, I guess it was never to be. Crap.

I guess we'll just have to live with what we had, and the final curtain call they gave us with the Live 8 show. If Live 8 is the perfect ending, I can accept that. I guess we'll have to.

That was a very happy day...but for right now this is a sad one. S

(AGI) - London, 15 Sept. - Richard Wright is dead, the co founder and keyboard player for legendary Pink Floyd: he was 65 years old and had cancer for a long time.

His death, which occurred today, was made public by his family, a spokesperson, who did not give particular details, asked for a respect of the family's privacy.

His full name was Richard William 'Rick' Wright, born in London, the only member of the original band to be from the city. As an adolescent, he briefly attended the "London College of Music" obtaining his jazz like style.

He left early, and signed up for Architecture before meeting his future band mates, Roger Waters and Nick Mason, with whom Pink Floyd was born along with Syd Barrett, later substituted by David Gilmour.

Wright played on all of the discs with the exception of 'The Final Cut' in 1983, when he was distanced from the band again by Waters, which also occurred in 1979 during recording of 'The Wall'. He returned in 1987 to complete "A Momentary Lapse of Reason', and was taken in completely a year after for 'The Delicate Sound of Thunder'.

Together with Mason, he participated in every concert for the group. Besides his instrumental contributions, Wright also composed many of the songs, alone or with the other band members: most importantly 'Sysyphus'. 'Summer '68', 'The Great Gig in the Sky', Us and Them' as well as in more recent times, 'Keep Talking' and 'Wearing the Inside Out'. In some cases he was lead vocalist, where he displayed his melodic talent.

He also released two solo albums, 'Wet Dream' in 1978, and 'Broken China' in 1996: he also participated in many collaborations, remakes of older songs, and his experience with the group Zee together with Dave Harris, with whom in 1984 he came out with 'Identity'.