the monkees

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Best of 2016

Published December 29, 2016 by Maryanne

monkees-good-times

For so many people, putting “Best” and “2016” together is definitely an oxymoron, and in my world it’s no different. Personally, it was a bad year with many losses and tears. It all began with the death of David Bowie (https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/rest-in-peace-to-the-prettiest-star-david-bowie/) Then my favorite cat of all time had to be put to sleep, at the age of 19 (https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/rest-in-peace-derick-mommys-little-heart-6-24-96-to-4-29-16/). And finally, we said good-bye to my beloved father-in-law who passed at the age of 94 a few months ago (http://obits.nj.com/obituaries/starledger/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=181972211).

It was just one of those years where the “hits” just kept on coming and there’s not enough hours in the day for me to write about all of them.

Since I really don’t like to focus on negativity, let’s just say, THANK GOD for music; it’s what makes the world go ’round, and a salvation to many. Like every other year, 2016 was no worse in the music department. There were so many live performances my husband and I attended this year, including a few of his own with Rob Fusari and Pharoah. And my “Learn + Listen” series which made the cover of the Caldwell News: http://www.mypaperonline.com/library-patrons-learn-and-listen-about-famous-musicians.html

Lucky me, I also was blessed to write about many performances for various publications.

Whether it was outdoor concerts, or indoor venues, there was not one bad show in the lot. It’s always so hard to pick a “favorite” but as every music fan knows, there are those songs and moments that keep popping into your head, days, even weeks, after the show is over. To any musician who is reading, whether you’re mentioned here or not, if I approached you after a show, I sincerely loved your act.

That said, in my humble opinion, I’d like to present what I felt was the best on my radar this year. ENJOY!

BEST SONG/VIDEO – ROB FUSARI “Let Love Down” 

TOP THREE LIVE PERFORMANCES

1 – ROB FUSARI – The Bitter End, NYC, May 24, 2016

(“Your Trap” featuring Andrea Martin, Matt, Mario, Dennis, and The Constellations)

2 – SOUND + VISION: THE MUSIC OF DAVID BOWIE (Musical Direction: RICHARD BARONE) – Outpost in the Burbs, Montclair, NJ, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016

(“Fame” featuring Richard Barone, Jeffrey Gaines, Burnt Sugar Arkestra, Nick Celeste. In other outstanding performances: Wesley Stace and Elvis Perkins)   

3 – PUNKY MEADOWS + FALLEN ANGEL BAND – B.B. Kings, NYC,  June 14, 2016

(“The Tower” featuring Punky Meadows, Danny Anniello, Chandler Mogel, Bob Pantella, Charlie Calv, Randy Gregg. Felix Robinson also performed on bass in this show)

 BEST ALBUM – THE MONKEES “GOOD TIMES” 

“She Makes Me Laugh” from The Monkees “Good Times” 

BEST VINYL – JACK WHITE “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”

How cool to hear this on a record player! 

BEST MUSIC MOVIE – “LET ME DOWN HARD” 

Starring Keith Roth, DJ 95.9 The Rat “Electric Ballroom,” performs with Frankenstein 3000 and David Johansen; songwriter for Punky Meadows and so much more! 

BEST MUSIC BOOK – CARMINE APPICE “STICK IT!” 

Stick_it_book_01Honest; and in a strange way, endearing! Loved it!

And, again, because some things have to be said more than once, in my own little world, quite a few super cool things happened to ease the pain of the sadness, like going to see so much live music, being around amazing people, being able to write for a living — and public speaking (which includes music and health programs!) Not to mention, my incredible husband who is my rock through all the hardships and triumphs. All in all, there were two stand-outs that made this year incredible.

First I got a new kitty, Nicholas Gray; my husband and I adore our new snuggle bun! How can you not?

DSC_0137Nicholas Gray

And, thanks to Ashley Valentin-Patino, I became a professional wedding officiant, and will be marrying many more people in 2017! Speaking of “bests” Ashley’s wedding to Mitchell was not only the best of 2016, but aside from my own, I’d say the best wedding of all time!

May 2017 will bring more love, music, and happiness to the world! Grim Reaper — be gone with you!

sam_1357Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta and Ashley Valentin-Patino

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist, available on Amazon in paperback only: https://www.amazon.com/Guest-List-Adventures-Music-Journalist/dp/162903908X

To contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, write her at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com 

The Monkees, Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank

Published May 30, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_0226The Monkees

Two of the original Monkees, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork teamed up for their 50th Anniversary Tour. Minus Michael, the two put on an amazing show.

My favorites included: “She,” “Daydream Believer,” “Papa Gene’s Blues,” “Stepping Stone,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” and “She Makes Me Laugh” (from the new album, which is fantastic!)

The three-hour show went way too fast. Throughout the performance they showed videos from their television show and also used Davy’s voice for his songs.

I’ve seen The Monkees several times, beginning in the mid-1980s when they first began their reunion tours. They are always incredible!

For more information on The Monkees, visit: http://www.monkees.com/#

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Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is an award-winning journalist and author. Her second book “Love Cats” is a fiction story set in the 1980s. The lead characters attend a Monkees concert. “Love Cats” is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1681020513

Disney Nature Monkey Kingdom

Published May 3, 2015 by Maryanne

Monkey KingdomKumar, Maya and little Kip

(NOTE: CONTAINS SPOILERS!)

I was thrilled that my husband took me to see “Disney Nature Monkey Kingdom” last night! It was an incredible documentary about the lives of monkeys living in the ancient ruins of Sri Lanka, adorably narrated by Tina Fey.

You know you’re in for something really special when a movie about monkeys opens up with “Hey, Hey, We’re The Monkees” by The Monkees.

And you learn something new right from the start. I never knew monkeys had cliques and classes just like humans do. The Monkey Kingdom is ruled by alpha male Raja and a trio of high status nasty bitch monkeys called “The Sisterhood.” The Sisterhood could do whatever they want, and their little monkeys could do whatever they want. (Pfft … sounds like some townships I know of in New Jersey, but I’ll keep my mouth shut!)

Immediately, your heart goes out to Maya, who is at the low end of the class. She gets the least food of all the monkeys and is treated poorly by The Sisterhood. It’s kind of like the story of Cinderella and her evil stepsisters. But Maya never becomes jaded. And of all the monkeys, she’s really a looker! You can see her soul through her blue-lidded eyes (which looks like she’s wearing eye shadow!). She was really a good monkey — all she ever wanted was to provide for herself (and later her family). Pretty is as pretty does!

During mating season, Kumar, an outsider, gets his heart set on attracting Maya. He flirts by chattering his teeth, making a lot of noise to get her attention. She likes him, but Alpha male Raj is determined to keep the outsider OUT.

It’s a Romeo and Juliet situation, but the tragic couple do find some time together and Maya becomes pregnant. Since Kumar is an outsider and forbidden into the Kingdom.

Life isn’t easy for a single mom, especially not in Monkey Kingdom. Maya has to raise little Kip on her own, hunting every day to find the best food to make the best milk for him.

The Sisterhood punish Maya for stealing their food and take little Kip away from her. Maya is heartbroken — and so seems little Kip. When The Sisterhood get bored taking care of Kip, they desert him and the little monkey baby is now lost and scared. (See, I told you they were nasty bitches!)

Kip and Maya cry for each other and eventually find each other again.

Meanwhile, Kumar doesn’t give up on wooing his lady. He’s a strong, chivalrous monkey and is able to entice Alpha Raj with some jack fruit. Kumar also makes friends with some of the younger monkeys in the tribe by playing with them. Raj finally accepts Kumar and allows him into the Kingdom to reunite with Maya. But Kumar has to work for it — his job is grooming other monkeys. And for the first time Kumar meets his son, Kip. Kumar, Maya and Kip become a happy family.

All is well until the Kingdom is upset by an outside tribe and the monkeys are forced to temporarily live elsewhere. Maya becomes a heroine when she teaches The Sisterhood how to hunt for food in the “real world.”

“Low class” Maya showed them how it’s done!  She makes it a “high class” style party, leading all the monkeys into a village where they hit the jackpot when they break into a hut and all hell breaks loose. The pickings were plentiful: cake, fruits, and other delights. The monkeys learned something they never knew before — a sense of a full tummy!

The story has a happy ending with Kumar and Maya moving up in class and having another baby monkey, a little sister for Kip. And little Kip ended up having the same great personality as his parents, wanting to make friends with all the other monkeys.

It was all so precious, I was crying my eyes out. Kumar and Maya stole my heart — they are my favorite celebrity couple!

In addition to monkeys, this film has other animal cuteness like deer, bears, squirrels and other wildlife.

I highly recommend this unforgettable adventure!

Here’s the official trailer from Disney:

Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkees! (NJPAC, Newark, 5-24-14)

Published May 25, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_4428Anticipating!

It was so amazing going to see the Monkees Reunion, which I saw back in 1986. (And then saw Micky Dolenz perform solo in the ’00s and also Michael Nesmith solo two winters ago).

Their tour website has some great photos, plus the set lists: http://www.monkeesconcerts.com/blog/category/2014-monkees-tour

My photos would have been so much better if I was allowed to use “flash” but we were instructed not to.

SAM_4468Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork

SAM_4471Micky

SAM_4521My favorite, Michael Nesmith!

Second song he sang, I was already choked up in tears! His work just moves me!

SAM_4489The excitement goes on and on and on!

SAM_4499This Monkee’s Gone To Heaven

I got extremely teary-eyed during the Davy Jones tribute, “Daydream Believer.”  RIP to a legend!

SAM_4494The whole stellar band! Some are members of Nesmith’s family. 

The second girl to the right is Coco Dolenz, Micky’s sister.

SAM_4502My husband Dennis, Me and our friend Johnny

The Monkee Mobile!

Michael Nesmith at Union County Performing Arts Center, Rahway, NJ

Published April 13, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_0562Famous Union County Arts Center, Rahway, New Jersey

(“School of Rock” was filmed here!)

SAM_0555Legendary Michael Nesmith (Photo by Dennis Mistretta)

Last night my husband and I enjoyed the most extraordinary evening — a performance by music legend, Michael Nesmith. We had fifth row!

Nesmith is mostly known for being in The Monkees. But what most people don’t realize is how many amazing songs he’s written for other artists and in his solo career. Two of my favorites are “Different Drum” and “Some of Shelley’s Blues,” which were recorded, beautifully, by Linda Ronstadt. And then hearing these gorgeous songs live, by the man who wrote them, was just off the hook. I got so choked up as I held back tears, I was totally moved.

He opened up with one of my other favorite Mike Nesmith songs, “Papa Gene’s Blues.” (Side note, my cat Billy likes this song. When we play it downstairs, he comes running down! So cute!) I also love “Joanne” which shows off the diversity in Nesmith’s voice, as he does some Slim Whitman type style vocals.

Also want to mention how NICE the Mike Nesmith fans were!! Everyone was talking to us. It was like one big party. People of all ages were there. Some so old, they probably saw the original Monkees back in the day! Definitely a diverse crowd and Nesmith got one standing ovation after another!

Prior to each song, Nesmith told a story about the song, painting a visual with his spoken words, which was equally as enticing as the music itself. I could have sat and listened to him tell stories all night and enjoyed it just as much!

So, I’ll shut up and let the concert speak for itself, as I found a You Tube video of the entire show, filmed a few weeks ago in Santa Cruz. The guy who filmed wasn’t as close as we were but you will get the gist.

Enjoy: Michael Nesmith in Santa Cruz, 2013

I want everyone to enjoy the original version of Joanne: Joanne

And cutie pie Michael Nesmith, when he was a young Monkee, doing “Different Drum”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDgF-A_kGVg

And here is Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys doing the song that made her famous, written by Nesmith:

Different Drum

Michael Nesmith, recording of “Some of Shelly’s Blues”: Some of Shelly’s Blues

The Monkees doing “Papa Gene’s Blues” (my cat Billy’s song): Papa Gene’s Blues

Note: Guitarist on “Papa Gene’s Blues” is James Burton — he played with Elvis!

SAM_0561Me (center) with Lauren Presley (left) and Suzi Colucci  (right) 

At the end of the show I ran into my friends Lauren and Susie from the punk rock band, “Candy Apple.” When I was a teenager I crashed a party they played at so I could meet them. Then a few years ago I met Suzi and Lauren on Face Book and  I was OFFICIALLY invited to their parties ever since! (Is that the coolest fun story or what?)

I’ll give a little shout out to them because they’re so awesome. Here’s one of their songs from Max’s Kansas reunion in 2010 at Otto’s Shrunken Head in NYC, playing their single “Stargazer” which I had a on 45 rpm record.

Stargazer – Candy Apple

SAM_0567

My husband and our kitty, Billy

And when Dennis and I got home, we ended the evening listening to “Papa Gene’s Blues” for Billy, ’cause I love you and I know you love me!

(And as some of you know, my other cat Derick loves The Turtles). When it comes to music, my cats have GOOD TASTE!