Up the Downstair

Being a weeklie podcaste from Madison, Wisconsin featuring several remarkable curiosities therein occurring being a compendium of live music from divers artistes

Show #280: Pieces of Hackett

January 2nd, 2016

It is tradition here at Up the Downstair to begin every new year with a show by Genesis or a related artist whether it be a solo concert by a former member or a tribute to the band. I don’t recall every starting the year with a Steve Hackett show and, since I saw him last month, I am going to post one of his performances.

sh2010 06 29 Show #280: Pieces of Hackett
(Photo by Ben Fenner.)

I’d seen Hackett prior to his concert in South Milwaukee last month but it was a solo acoustic show back in 2005 at Shank Hall in Milwaukee. And so I was excited to see him electric with a full band. He did not disappoint.

Without making this into a review of last month’s concert, I do want to point out that the first set was his solo material while the second was all Genesis. Hackett, of all former band members, has been the most unafraid to incorporate the band’s music into his solo gigs. Indeed, he has revisited his work with Genesis on two albums which feature reworked versions of classic 70s tunes. On the other hand, Hackett unapologetically featured several songs from his most recent album, Wolflight, in South Milwaukee.

He takes a similar approach here. This concert is from 29 June 2010 at the Park West in Chicago, Illinois. About half the show is comprised of songs from the then-current Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth while the other half features solo tunes from the 70s and a couple Genesis songs. This is a relatively short performance as Hackett was sharing the bill with Renaissance. But it is a really nice audience recording.


Emerald and Ash
Fire on the Moon
Ace of Wands
Spectral Mornings
Still Waters
Los Endos
Firth of Fifth

Download show

Steve Hackett

This show was captured on video and I think it’s all on YouTube. This is “Every Day”, a song I was thrilled to finally hear live. The guitar solo sent chills down my spine. One of his best.

Show #279: Melt Banana @ High Noon Saloon

September 1st, 2015

meltbanana mad15 Show #279: Melt Banana @ High Noon Saloon

Japan’s Melt Banana swung through Madison earlier this summer for a gig at the High Noon Saloon.

I first heard of them a few years ago and they were referred to as being a punk band but, after listening to this performance, it’s quite obvious that they’re much more than that. There’s punk to be had here – just listen to their hardcore take on Devo’s “Uncontrollable Urge” – but there’s also thrash, noise rock, industrial, melodic pop, and other sub-genres unbeknownst to me thrown in for good measure.

The band was formed in 1992 by singer Yasuko Onuki who soon recruited guitarist Ichirou Agata to the cause. They apparently had a bass player at some point and have performed with a whole host of drummers. However, this summer’s tour featured only Onuki and Agata with bass and drum duties given over to a laptop. I’d imagine that there are certain limitations when your rhythm section is a MacBook but Melt Banana don’t seem particularly interested in improvisation. Instead they are keen to pack their short, concise songs with as much maniacal energy as they can.

Here they are from the High Noon Saloon here in Madison on 15 July.

Feedback Deficiency
Lie Lied Lies
Lefty Dog (Run, Caper, Run)
Chain-Shot to Have Some Fun
The Hive
Vertigo Game
Cat Brain Land
Monkey Man
Uncontrollable Urge
Cracked Plaster Cast
Schemes of the Tails
Halo of Sorrow
Infection Defective
My Missing Link
Candy Gun
Blank Page of the Blind

Download show

Melt Banana

Here’s the band doing a couple of cover songs about two weeks after their Madison show out in Long Beach, California on 30 July. “Monkey Man” by oots & the Maytals is followed by “Uncontrollable Urge”.

Show #278: For My Brother – Santana at the Shiny, New World Music Theatre

August 27th, 2015

bro santana tix Show #278: For My Brother – Santana at the Shiny, New World Music Theatre

My brother passed away back in the spring and I am posting some shows that he attended as well as shows by bands that he liked but for which he did not leave behind a ticket stub.

When my brother saw Santana at the World Music Theatre in the summer of 1990, the amphitheater was all shiny and new. From what I’ve been able to glean from the Interwebs, the first show at the new venue was less than three months earlier on 2 June when Cher graced the stage. The venue has hosted countless bands since then and undergone four or five name changes as well.

bro santana Show #278: For My Brother – Santana at the Shiny, New World Music Theatre

I never knew my brother to be a big Santana fan. It’s not that he disliked them, mind you, it’s just that I don’t recall him having any of their albums. Perhaps he went along with friends to party while having no great affinity for the band. Or he genuinely liked their music. I’ll never know.

Looking at the ticket stub, I recalled that I was starting college that fall and that I had moved into my dorm room a day or two before this concert. If memory serves I spent this night at a house party on the 600 block of West Dayton and it got busted by the police. I walked out unscathed and I recall a friend exiting a basement window and headed for the Howard Johnson (now the DobleTree) pool.

And what about Santana in 1990? This was nine years before Supernatural and its ubiquitous hit single “Smooth”. The band and its namesake, Carlos Santana, were legends at the time, of course, they were, as I remember it, a nostalgia act. Classic rock radio would play “Black Magic Woman” and “Oyo Como Va” while their newer material was generally avoided. The most recent bout of Top 20 fame of theirs that I can recall was “Winning” from their 1981 album Zebop! which was on the radio frequently.

At the time of this concert Santana were out in support of the album Spirits Dancing in the Flesh which had been released a couple months previously. I remember finding the album in the collection of a girlfriend of mine a couple years later but I can’t say that I recall ever listening to it. To the band’s credit, they play six of the ten tracks on the album here instead of simply relying on the old hits.

The concert was broadcast on the radio by WXRT in Chicago. Credit must go to the person who converted this from the original recording as she or he did a good job of getting rid of the announcers.

Angels All Around Us >Spirits Dancing in the Flesh
The Healer
It’s a Jungle Out There
Somewhere in Heaven
Batuka >Nobody That I Can Depend On
Gypsy woman
Just a Jam > drums & bass > Solo bass >
We Don’t Have To Wait > Walfredo De Los Reyes> Benny Rietveld
Black Magic Woman > Gypsy Queen > Oyo como Va
Goodness & Mercy
She’s Not There
Toussaint l’Overture
Soul Sacrifice
Peace on Earth/Mother Earth/Third Stone from the Sun
Europa > Jingo

Download show


I couldn’t find much live Santana from 1990 on YouTube but there was this clip of the band on The Today Show doing “Spirits Dancing in the Flesh”.

Show #277: For My Brother – From Chicago to Copenhagen

August 9th, 2015

My brother passed away back in the spring and I am posting some shows that he attended as well as shows by bands that he liked but for which he did not leave behind a ticket stub.

nakedraygun89 Show #277: For My Brother   From Chicago to Copenhagen

I found a ticket stub for the Naked Raygun show at the Riviera on 9 September 1989 amongst my brother’s possessions. Although I was unable to find a recording of that particular show I was able to find a nice audience recording of a gig in the spring of that year from Copenhagen.

Truth be told I am not a big Naked Raygun fan. I don’t dislike them by any means, I just find them to be alright, basically. My brother, on the other hand, loved them. In addition to a ticket stub he also had several of their albums on vinyl. They are certainly the first band that comes to mind when I think of the Chicago punk scene. I hope I don’t come across as damning with faint praise or any such thing because that’s not my intention. Naked Raygun were just a band that my brother was into much more than myself.

Anyway, let’s get to the music.

This performance was recorded on 24 May 1989 in front of a bunch of Danes at the Barbue in Copenhagen. It’s really much better than “nice” – this is indeed a great recording.

Live Wire
Soldier’s Requiem
The Strip
Hips Swingin’
Dog At Large
Never Follow
I Remember
The Mule
Surf Combat
Vanilla Blue
Backlash Jack
I Don’t Know
Ever Fallen in Love
Rat Patrol

Download show

Naked Raygun

Here’s the band from Austria in 1989. This must be shortly before or after the Copenhagen gig as I presume that Naked Raygun weren’t doing multiple European tours in a single year. But stranger things have happened, I guess.

Show #276: The Fish Has Left the Building

June 29th, 2015

yes 2014 live Show #276: The Fish Has Left the Building
(Photo found here.)

It was incredibly disheartening to find out yesterday morning that Chris Squire had passed away Saturday night from leukemia. He was only 67 and he leaves behind a very young daughter. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to lose a parent when you are six or seven years old. Someone pointed out at a forum just how cruel Fate is: John Entwhistle died on the same date back in 2002. 27 June is just not a good day for bass players.

I never met the man but came close back in 2002 after the Yes show in Milwaukee. Squire seemed the most convivial and eager to sign autographs. He was always the rock star of the band – the least New Age-y and most ready to have a cocktail. My friends and I had really nice seats for that show and I will never forget Squire prancing around with his Rickenbacker. The neck seemed to go on forever and it was really neat to see just how he played “Roundabout” right before my very eyes. Plus he was the one who really hammed it up onstage, especially during “The Fish”.

As a listener, it was Squire who demonstrated to me that the bass could be a melodic instrument. That chewy, spongy tone was up high in the mix and usually heard playing its own melody in contrast to the one everyone else was churning out. The bass was a lead instrument in his hands. And then there was his backing vocals. Squire’s voice was a defining element of Yes’ sound. After Drama his bass may have been further down in the mix and Jon Anderson may have come and gone, but Squire’s tenor shone through. It was the beam from a musical lighthouse letting the listener know that it was Yes they were hearing wherever the bass may be and whoever is singing lead.

No doubt Squire influenced scores of musicians. Geddy Lee, Steve Harris, and Les Claypool seem the obvious ones. Tributes have been posted online from other proggers such as Steve Hackett, Pete Trawavas and John Petrucci but also from folks like Geezer Butler, Brian May, Tom Morello, and Robert Trujillo. Umphrey’s McGee covered “Roundabout” last night in Squire’s honor. Dereck Higgins has a really nice tribute up on YouTube.

And so to commemorate the great musical legacy of Chris Squire, I am posting Yes’ show from their stop here in Madison last year. It was at the Overture Center and the date was 25 July. I was at this show and have my criticisms of it but I’ll leave those for another day.


Siberian Khatru
And You and I
Close to the Edge
Believe Again
The Game
Cans and Brahms
We Have Heaven
South Side of the Sky
Five Per Cent for Nothing
Long Distance Runaround
The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
Mood for a Day
Heart of the Sunrise
I’ve Seen All Good People
Owner of a Lonely Heart

Download show

I could find no video from this particular show online but I did find “The Fish” from Yes’ show in Houston a couple of weeks later. Squire always seemed to be the one to show off and it was fun to have him up on the stage playing with his bass god reputation.

rip squire Show #276: The Fish Has Left the Building
(Photo by Matt Apps taken at the Madison gig.)

Show #275: Steve. Wilson. 2015.

June 3rd, 2015

sw 2015 Show #275: Steve. Wilson. 2015.
(Photo by Lasse Hoile.)

I was shocked to read a few months ago that Steven Wilson had made Madison a stop on his 2015 tour. He’ll be here this coming Saturday, 6 June, at the Barrymore Theatre. And it was genuinely strange to see him profiled in our local alt-weekly, Isthmus. I believe that this is his first solo gig in Wisconsin, although Porcupine Tree played Milwaukee several times.

Wilson’s latest album, Hand. Cannot. Erase., was released here in the States late last winter. I’ve been listening to it lately in anticipation of this weekend’s show. Sadly, I have to admit that I am nowhere near as familiar with Wilson’s solo work as I am with Porcupine Tree. (Although I did listen to Grace for Drowning and the Lizard-era King Crimson influence was everywhere – it was glorious!) last weekendHand. Cannot. Erase. is thematically reminiscent of latter day PT, say, 2002-2010. It has the requisite dark concept having been loosely based on the sad life of Joyce Carol Vincent, a British woman whose body was discovered in her apartment in January 2006 although she had died in December 2003. Musically it reminds me of Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun but this might simply be because the death metal influences that were so prominent in 21st century PT are largely absent here. I mean, check out the Chet Atkins/Steve Howe solo on “3 Years Older”.

And so to celebrate another prog heavyweight coming to town (King Crimson swung through last year), here’s a show from Wilson’s current tour. It’s from 17 March of this year when he and his band played The Troxy in London. We have a really nice audience recording here.


First Regret
3 Years Older
Hand Cannot Erase
Perfect Life
Home Invasion
Regret #9
Harmony Korine
Happy Returns
Ascendant Here On…

The Watchmaker
Sleep Together

The Raven That Refused to Sing

Download show

Steven Wilson

Wilson and his minions seem to have rid YouTube of any clips from his current tour so here’s “Sectarian” from 2012.

Show#274: Goodbye B.B. King

May 25th, 2015

bbking mad 2000 Show#274: Goodbye B.B. King
(Photo by Steve Wagener.)

Blues legend B.B. King passed away earlier this month. He was 89.

He was one of the last remaining musicians who oversaw the electrification of the blues in the post-war era. Who’s left? Buddy Guy comes to mind. But most of the big names – the people that the likes of Robert Cray and Eric Clapton espouse as being influences – have passed on. We are truly at the end of an era.

I posted King’s set from the 2003 Madison Blues Fest several years ago and it can be found here. Also from a local angle, The Capital Times’ Rob Thomas reminisces about meeting the man himself and has reposted his interview with King from 2006.

Today we have B.B. King’s set from the Madison Blues Fest in 2000. It’s a decent audience recording. Certainly not the best, but quite listenable. Any help with the setlist would be appreciated.

Intro to BB King
Bad Case of Love
Peace of Mind in My Lifetime
Outskirts of Town
The Thrill Is Gone
Got to Love Somebody

Download show

B.B. King

I found some video of King’s last performance here in Madison from May 2013. Thanks to “joaordorea” for posting it on YouTube.

Show #273: For My Brother – Rush Returns to the Windy City

May 17th, 2015

Last month my brother passed away and I am posting some shows that he attended as well as shows by bands that he liked but for which he did not leave behind a ticket stub. The first post in this series is here.

ticket rush bro Show #273: For My Brother   Rush Returns to the Windy City

This time around it’s Rush.

I recall being a kid and listening to my brother’s pirated copy of Fly By Night. In fact, I ran across it when I was disposing of his belongings. My memories of becoming a Rush fan are rather sporadic, however. After seeing adds for Hold Your Fire in Kerrang! I was looking forward to the release of that album so I was a fan by the summer of 1987. But I’m unsure if that fandom went beyond the FM radio staples of “Tom Sawyer”, “Spirit of Radio”, and the like.

As you can see, my brother saw the band in Chicago on 20 July 2002. I chuckled to myself when I found this stub because I had seen them the day before in Milwaukee. It was a reminder of how much we had in common, I suppose.

After losing his daughter in a car accident in 1997 and then his wife less than a year later, Neil Peart “retired” from music. Thinking back to that time I can remember reading about Peart’s losses and felt terribly for him. I wondered if this was truly the end of Rush. A few years later in 2002 they released Vapor Trails and hit the road. Personally, I found Vapor Trails to be an improvement over Test for Echo. It was loud and energetic and I was eagerly anticipating seeing them live again after an 8-year hiatus. They did not disappoint.

The new material worked well and 90s tunes like “Dreamline” and “Between Sun & Moon” had a bit more punch. The whole concert was full of energy and the band sounded, to make a bad pun, driven. It’s too bad that it took such tragedy for them to find a renewed sense of purpose. I can picture my brother getting fired up upon hearing “By-Tor and the Snow Dog”.

rush2002 rip Show #273: For My Brother   Rush Returns to the Windy City
(Photo by Brock Scott.)

And so this is Rush’s show at the Tweeter Center on 20 July 2002. It’s in three parts and is a fine audience recording.

Download Part I
Download Part II
Download Part III


Here’s “Earthshine” from the Rush in Rio concert video>

Lecture Series on Paramount Records Begins Today

April 23rd, 2015

The Center for the Humanities at the UW-Madison is hosting a symposium that starts today called “The Rise and Fall and Rise of Paramount Records”. Paramount was a label out of Grafton, Wisconsin and is known for having released many historically significant blues and jazz albums. Back in 2006 I attended a lecture at the Wisconsin Historical Museum about Paramount so let me quote from it:

Paramount started distributing in 1918 and was a subsidiary of the Wisconsin Chair Company in Grafton (a bit north of Milwaukee). The WCC was contracted by Edison Records (Yes, Thomas Alva) to make phonograph cabinets. Seeing a lucrative market, WCC began making phonographs themselves and decided to give away records along with them. While Paramount is today best-remembered for having released music by blues and jazz legends such as Skip James, Son House, and Louis Armstrong, the label initially released recordings of bands playing ethnic music that appealed to the locals who were mostly German.

The inspiration for the symposium is the re-release of a slew of Paramount recordings in a two-volume set called The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records which are lavish productions that each include six LPs, a USB thumb drives with something like 800 songs, and lots of reproductions of period ads. Volume 1 appeared in 2013 with the second out last autumn.

The box sets are a collaboration between Revenant Records and Jack White’s Third Man Records and so it’s not surprising that they seem to ignore all of the other genres of music that Paramount released which wouldn’t be at home on the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack such as polka, dance orchestra music, and Hawaiian steel guitar. Considering the significant German and German-American population of Milwaukee, Paramount also released waltzes, schottisches, and so on. Sorry Mr. White but the music of America goes beyond the folk music created by African-Americans and people of Anglo-Scotch decent.

Anyway, here’s the schedule:

Sounds Transformed: From Analog Capture to Digital Formats
Thursday, April 23 at 3:00 pm
Room 313, University Club Building, 432 E. Campus Mall
Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here.

Jeremy Morris, Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, UW-Madison
Craig Eley, ACLS Public Fellow, To the Best of Our Knowledge
Dean Blackwood, Owner, Revenant Records; Executive Producer, The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records
Amanda Petrusich, Author, Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 RPM Records (2014)

With Paramount as the starting point, this panel will examine how capture and playback of sound has evolved from early analog and electrical recording technologies to new digital formats, and how this affects the value of the recording as cultural artifact.

Music in a Box: The Containment and Commodification of Paramount Records
Thursday, April 23 at 5:30 pm Room
L140 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, 800 University Ave.
Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here.

Ann Smart Martin, Stanley and Polly Stone Professor of Art History and Director, Material Culture Program, UW-Madison
Craig Werner, Evjue-Bascom Professor of Afro-American Studies, UW-Madison
Dean Blackwood, Owner, Revenant Records; Executive Producer,The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records
Amanda Petrusich, Author, Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 RPM Records (2014)
Moderated by Steve Paulson, Executive Producer,To the Best of Our Knowledge

This moderated conversation will “unbox” the Paramount Records story, discussing notable songs, addressing issues of commodification, the creation of artificial barriers between “black” and “white” music, the early history of the phonograph and record cabinet, and the subsequent physical containment of music.

The Other Sides of Paramount Records
Friday, April 24, 2015 at Noon
Wisconsin Historical Museum, 30 N. Carroll Street
Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here.

Tom Caw, Music Public Services Librarian, Mills Music Library, UW-Madison
Dean Blackwood, Owner, Revenant Records; Executive Producer, The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records

Though best known for its blues recordings, Paramount released hundreds of records in dozens of genres, including work by a number of local Wisconsin artists recording Old Time (or Hillbilly) music, polka, and dance orchestra, including Stoughton’s own Jack Penewell, playing Hawaiian steel guitar. Come hear the music and tales of the musicians who made it.

Music and Media: Live Sounds, Silk Screens, and the Story of Paramount Records
Saturday, April 25 – 9:30am to 1:00pm
Bubbler Room, Madison Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin Street
Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here

Matthew Bindert, Printmaker and Artist-Mentor at Artworking
Simon Balto, Musician and PhD Candidate in History and Afro-American Studies, UW-Madison
Jeffrey Kollath, Public Humanities Program Manager, UW-Madison Center for the Humanities

Join us for a music-filled, hands-on, all-ages Saturday morning workshop featuring a live performance by local musician Simon Balto, a record album silk screening workshop with graphic artist Matthew Bindert, free art projects, and a listening lab with record players, reel-to-reel tape decks, and more, all while learning about Wisconsin’s very own Paramount Records, a record label based in Grafton, WI that released some of the most influential blues, jazz, and folk records of the 20th century. Art supplies donated by Mad City Music Exchange. More information here, from our co-hosts at the Madison Public Library.

He Comes From the Land of Ice and Snow

April 23rd, 2015

Here’s an amusing headline from one of our local newspapers.

walker zep He Comes From the Land of Ice and Snow

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