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The Advice Goddess: March 2019
Wednesday, 06 March 2019 11:58
America's next top (plastic) remodel?

Q: I’m seeing so many women on Instagram who’ve had themselves made over to be super hot through cosmetic surgery and injectable fillers. They all have the same face — with big, luscious lips and huge doll-like eyes. In every shot, they’re in full makeup — crazy eyeliner, tons of contouring. Do guys actually like this plastic Barbie look? Are guys cool with cosmetic surgery in general?
-- Curious
Buddy K Big Band ends show with swing’s ‘national anthem’
Wednesday, 06 March 2019 11:16
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BLACK MOUNTAIN —  The Buddy K Big Band finished its Feb. 9 show with Frank Sinatra’s dazzling 1940 version (with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, of course) of “I’ll Be Seeing You” at White Horse nightclub in Black Mountain, triggering applause and cries for an encore from the small-but-fired-up crowd.

“Gee, okay,” a smiling band leader Tom Donnelly said. “If you want one more, we’re going to play the ‘national anthem’ of big band music — so get up and dance!”

The 18-piece band then launched into the most-recognizable swing-era song around the world and arguably America’s most popular big band hit — the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s 1939 smash, “In the Mood.” (The hey-day of swing music was between 1935 and 1946.)

Several couples danced to the song — and when it was over, the crowd again applauded with gusto, but the house lights immediately were turned up, as a smiling Donnelly and the band waved goodnight.

A small crowd of 40 or so people attended the concert, which featured two 45-minute sets and a 30-minute intermission.

The show opened with Count Basie’s rousing “Straight Ahead.”

The choice of a Basie song to begin the show was a harbinger of what was to come — as the Buddy K Big Band played a number of Basie classics during the concert.

As one horn player told the Daily Planet afterward, “Basie swings like no other band.”

Other first-set songs included “Mack the Knife,” ““Quincy and the Count,” “L-O-V-E,” “When I Fall in Love,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “My Favorite Things,” “Orange-Colored Sky,” “My Romance,” “Every Day I Have the Blues,” “The Look of Love” and “Almost Like Being in Love.” The set closed with “Hay Burner.”

The “big-band jump version” of 1972’s “My Favorite Things,” as introduced by Donnelly, stood out as one of its most riveting performances of the first set — perhaps of the night. The song originally was sung by actress Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music.”

Donnelly triggered laughter from the audiene while introducing “My Favorite Things” saying, “We’re going to give you some cowbell on the next one.”

The second set opened with “What’s New,” followed by “The Best Is Yet to Come,” “Queen Bee,” “Skylark,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “The Lady Is a Tramp,” “Shiny Stockings,” “Fever,” “Cute,” “At Last,” “Night Train” and “You’re Nobody Until Somebody Loves You.” 

The White Horse show was held on a night following a stormy day in early February, so Donnelly told the sparse audience early in the concert, “Well, I guess the weather kept a few of you away.”

Despite its size rivaling that of that crowd, the band members performed as true professionals, seemingly giving it their all.

In a brief interview with the Daily Planet during intermission, Donnelly proudly noted that the Buddy K Big Band is “the classic size of a big band,” with 18 members, including five saxophones, four trombones, four trumpets, pianist, bassist, drummer, a female vocalist and a male vocalist.

Donnelly also explained that the band was founded in Hendersonville in 1983 by the late Bill Shipp of Hendersonville. Since Shipp’s nickname was “Buddy K,” that is what he named his band.

Part way through the show, Donnelly introduced Dr. Jerry Hyman, a band member, whom, he noted, at one time “starred with (the band) Blood, Sweat and Tears.” He said Hyman, though, is “much more than just a rock star,” triggering laughter from the crowd.

Further research afterward by the Daily Planet revealed that Hyman toured for more than 250 days a year — from Woodstock to the Iron Curtain to Caesar’s Palace — as a member of Blood, Sweat & Tears. He performed with the iconic band from 1968-1972.

When Hyman joined in 1968, the band, according to a web story by Gina Carbone, “was more underground than commercial, but Hyman knew who they were.” Indeed, during his years with Blood, Sweat & Tears, he was saw the group rack up success after success with the new lead singer, Canadian David Clayton-Thomas.

Carbone also reported, “Blood, Sweat & Tears’ second album sold 10 million copies worldwide and launched three gold singles, ‘Spinning Wheel’, ‘You’ve Made Me So Very Happy’  and ‘And When I Die.’ The album was nominated for Grammy Awards in 10 categories and won an unprecedented five, including, Song of the Year for ‘Spinning Wheel.’ It also won Album of the Year and Best Male Performance by a Male Vocalist for David’s rendition of Billie Holiday’s ‘God Bless The Child,’ which became a contemporary classic.”

In his role as the featured male singer, Donnelly — especially — excelled on Sinatra and Joe Williams’ songs — and it was evident to all how much he especially admired Sinatra’s vocal skills. Donelly’s highlight in covering Sinatra was his ability to duplicate Ol’ Blue Eyes’ phrasing. Among his stunning Sinatra covers was to “The Lady Is a Tramp.”

Donnelly also sounded terrific covering vocals by Williams, who also was considered an extraordinary singer, rivaling Sinatra. Arguably, his best Williams’ cover of the night was to Williams’ version of Count Basie’s “Every Day I Have the Blues.”

Besides Donnelly’s musical skills and band leadership, a perhaps-underlooked-but-important strength he offers is his skill as the band’s jovial master of ceremonies, playing well to the audience and showing both knowledge of the music and its original performers, with a sharp sense of humor.

As for the band’s featured female singer, Karen Connor, among her many vocal highlights were her cover of the George and Ira Gershwin song, “Love Is Here to Stay” and of Peggy Lee’s mega-hit “Fever.” While her singing shows much promise, Conner is more than a bit stiff on stage and would benefit from putting more emphasis on bringing her showmanship and stagecraft up to the same high level as her promising vocals.

Indeed, the Buddy K Big Band, mainly based in Hendersonville (but including a number of Asheville members, too) most notably needs to step it up — big time — in showmanship.

Rather than mostly just sitting or standing and performing the lively, spirited swing songs, it would add immensely to the entertainment value of its shows if — at times — the horn section would sway back and forth together, if the drummer would toss his sticks up into the air and catch them, if the bassman would twirl around his bass, if the keyboardist would do a piano roll and sweep an arm dramatically into the air, and if the vocalists swayed rhythmically to the music in a carefully choreographed way. 

And when the various horn-players performed solos during songs, it would be more fun — for all — if they hammed it up and shifted around, rather than standing and performing so rigidly.

However, given that the Buddy K Band has been a success since its founding more than 35 years ago, it may be asking a bit much for it to add lively choreography to make its musically spot-on shows even more fun and entertaining. 

Then again, that may be the missing ingredient to take its shows to the next level.


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