Sting, Paul Simon Sing Late into the Evening

This article 1st appeared in The Prices Do DC — March 13, 2014

When you think of a partner for Paul Simon, you probably see Art Garfunkel. You probably don’t consider Sting. But tonight at the Verizon Center, Simon teamed with Sting to perform more than 25 songs that they had made individually part of the rock and roll discography.

After the duo played a 3-song opening – “Brand New Day,” “Boy in the Bubble,” and “Fields of Gold,” Simon addressed the sold-out crowd.

“Welcome DC to this experiment we have been conducting,” he said. “Two bands, changing the set list up. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned to have sex for days. (a reference to Sting’s claims for Tantric benefits). And it’s all because of that man.”

“You’ve changed too, right,” he added, turning to Sting.

“Not really,” Sting said with a laugh.

Then for the next 2-and-a-half hours, the duo alternated playing heir hits. The 14 other performers from the 2 groups shuttled in and out depending on the tune. There were so many combinations that you would have needed an advanced math degree to keep track of them all.

For Sting fans, there were both his solo hits and the songs made famous with his old band, The Police. Here’s a sample – “Englishman in New York,” “Driven to Tears,” “Fragile,” “Message in a Bottle,” and “Roxanne,” To me, the high point of the Sting portion was a magnificent “Hounds of Winter.”

For Simon fans, there were solo hits and songs he had popularized with his long-time partner Art Garfunkel. Those included “Mother and Child Reunion,” “Graceland,” “The Boxer,” “Me and Julio (Down by the School Yard), “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” and Simon’s high point “Call Me Al.”

Throughout the night, as they switched from on-stage to off-stage, Sting and Simon talked about their new musical touring union.

Sting was particularly poignant as he described how much Simon’s music has meant to him. He said that some songs always remind people of a certain time and place in their lives. He then proceeded to talk about when he and his Police bandmates first came to America.

“We were touring all over America. Staying in shitty motels and and playing to empty clubs,” he said. “And this song speaks to much of that.” He then broke into a solo performance of Simon’s classic of “America.”

The duo performed a 3-song encore with all 14 band members. It started with a gospel-tinged “Bridge of Troubled Waters. That was followed by an exhilarating “Every Breath You Take.” After the last notes of the 3rd song, an extended jammy version of “Late in the Evening,” the 14 backing band members headed backstage.

Simon and Sting, each with an acoustic guitar in hand, approached the front of stage. “Rock and roll began with a couple of voices, a couple of guitars, and a mike,” Simon said. “I think that’s the way we’ll finish tonight.” He and Sting then offered a beautifully harmonious rendition of the Everly Brothers “When Will I Be Loved.”

The Simple Dreams of Linda Ronstadt

This article 1st appeared in the Prices Do DC – 10.15.2013

Many people believe that the rock stars of the late 60s and early 70s, fueled by a diet of drugs, alcohol and adoration, engaged in a decade-long series of wild, sex-filled parties after their sold-out concerts. Linda Ronstadt, one of the most popular singers of that period, admits that while the times could be wild, they were not the same for everyone. “Did I try things? You bet I did,” Ronstadt says. “But my addiction is to reading. I was the girl back in the hotel room reading and knitting”.

Actually reading is much more of the pastime with rockers than you might imagine, Ronstadt explained. “A musician was the one who turned me on to Anna Karenina,” she said speaking recently at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. “The piano players always read; the drummers not so much. The piano player was the guy who had to calm things down. The lead guitar player was like the high-strung pitcher and the piano player was the catcher”.

Many people believe that the rock stars of the late 60s and early 70s, fueled by a diet of drugs, alcohol and adoration, engaged in a decade-long series of wild, sex-filled parties after their sold-out concerts. Linda Ronstadt, one of the most popular singers of that period, admits that while the times could be wild, they were not the same for everyone. “Did I try things? You bet I did,” Ronstadt says. “But my addiction is to reading. I was the girl back in the hotel room reading and knitting”.

Actually reading is much more of the pastime with rockers than you might imagine, Ronstadt explained. “A musician was the one who turned me on to Anna Karenina,” she said speaking recently at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. “The piano players always read; the drummers not so much. The piano player was the guy who had to calm things down. The lead guitar player was like the high-strung pitcher and the piano player was the catcher”.

She compared the life of a touring musician to that outlined in seafaring books like those ofHeart of Darkness author Joseph Conrad. “Those books capture how provincial a sailor’s life is. The harbors are the same all over the world. You hang with the same scabby old guys. You don’t go beyond the harbor. Being on tour is very much like that. There’s the bus, and the hotel, and the sound check, and the show, and the dinner, and then the after-dinner playing. And then you do the same thing the next day”.

Ronstadt, now 67 and battling the crippling effects of Parkinson’s disease that has dictated she will never sing in public again, was appearing at the festival to talk about her new memoir Simple Dreams, which focuses on her upbringing in a musical family in Tucson and the evolution of her career.

“My Dad sang these Mexican standards and folk songs,” she told the crowd of fans that packed the huge tent on the National Mall. “I just wanted to be a singer. I didn’t want to be a star”.

Ronstadt first came to national attention with the band the Stone Ponies and their 1967 hit “Different Drum”. She settled in the southern California area and began putting together a new band. She was able to recruit Don Henley on drums, Glen Frey and Bernie Leadon on guitar and Randy Meisner on bass. If those names sound familiar, it might be because those 4 went on to form The Eagles, one of the biggest selling bands of all-time. “They started playing (opening) shows together and regularly blowing me off the stage, but I didn’t care. It was great music and I was loving it,” Ronstadt said.

She says she is still amazed about those days in Los Angeles. When she was 18, she met a singer/songwriter who was one year younger. His name was Jackson Browne. “I was astonished that someone that young could write songs that well. And the 1st guitar player I met was Ry Cooder. He was up on stage playing his ass off like a demon”.

In the 70s, Ronstadt released a series of hits that showcased her versatility such as “Heat Wave”,”Blue Bayou,” “Tumbling Dice” and “You’re No Good”.

She also had a series of boyfriends, including current Oakland Mayor and former California Governor Jerry Brown. But despite the fact that she raised 2 adopted children, she never married. “I didn’t get married. It wasn’t important to me. I was a serial monogamist,” she said with a laugh. Although Ronstadt enjoyed her time in the rock limelight, she actually pulled herself out of the business to devote time to raising her 2 children, who are now 19 and 22.

Ronstadt said she was inspired to write her memoir after reading other such volumes like the one penned by fellow singer Roseanne Cash. “I thought I would like to write a thank you note,” she said. “I wasn’t the most talented singer, but I was one of the most diverse singers. I wanted to write about why these musical choices weren’t arbitrary. And they certainly weren’t career moves”.

She did a series of standards arranged by the late, great Nelson Riddle in the 1980s, predating such singers as Rod Stewart and his American songbook. She followed that with a return to her Mexican roots. “That was music I was passionate about. I had to sing it or I felt I would die,” she said.

There is a belief that all music stars with hit records make millions of dollars. “That just isn’t true,” Ronstadt said. She cited an article on her current book tour that portrayed her as squandering a fortune. “The writer wondered why I couldn’t afford a $20 million house. Oh gee (hitting herself in the head for emphasis), I must have snorted it”.

Ronstadt says the recording industry of her days is a thing of the past. “The record business I knew is completely gone. Now we don’t have any gatekeepers. They knew what a good record was”. Ronstadt says that while she is not against change, “the price we pay may be much too dear for what we lose”.

And while she describes herself as not particularly political, she does have strong feelings about the immigration debate. She contends that like much of America, the golden era of 20th Century music was nurtured by great American immigrant songwriters like George Gershwin. “It was completely created by the fact that we were a nation that was welcoming to immigrants,” Ronstadt said. “We allowed them to come in and find their place. We allowed them to prosper, which is what people from Mexico and Guatemala and El Salvador and Liberia and Libya and all these people would be doing now if we let them. We need to help them find their place. “I don’t know why this country doesn’t learn.”

Of course, she is asked how she feels about the Parkinson’s that has robbed her of her singing voice and forces her to steady herself with the aid of 2 walking sticks. Her succinct answer – no regrets. “I had a great career. I had an unusually long run at the trough,” she says

Wild Tales from Graham Nash of CSN&Y

This article 1st appeared in The Prices Do DC – 10.14.13

If you are a fan of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young you should take a moment and thank Mama Cass Elliot, one of the 2 female singers in the hit-producing 1960s southern California group The Mamas and the Papas. Or at least that is what Graham Nash says. Here is the way Nash tells the story of his 1st meeting with David Crosby, a meeting that led directly to the formation of CSN&Y.

In 1966, Nash, then a member of the British Invasion band The Hollies was in California. He got invited to a studio where the Mamas and the Papas were recording. Nash said he definitely wanted to go. “Like everyone else, I wanted Michelle (the other female singer, the stunning Michelle Phillips) badly,” he says with a wink.

However, Michelle was busy recording a vocal part, so Nash stood outside the studio talking to Cass. Knowing that Nash was close to the Beatles, Cass asked “What do you think John Lennon would think of our music?” she asked.

He said the sardonic, satiric Lennon would probably make fun of it. “She began crying her eyes out; she had such a crush on John,” Nash said. So, feeling badly for what he had said, Nash readily agreed to Cass’ suggestion that he come with her to meet someone she was sure he would like.

When he arrived at the apartment with Cass, he encountered a young man in a blue and white T-shirt, laying on the couch, intently, but effortlessly, separating quality marijuana from stems and seeds, all of which was contained in a shoe box.  “That was the 1st time I ever met David Crosby and it was also the 1st time I ever got high,” Nash says.

It was also the beginning of what Nash calls “the most rewarding and the most difficult relationship” of his life, a life that Nash examines in his just-released memoir Wild Tales, which he talked about recently at an appearance at the Library of Congress. . “I loved him from the moment I met him. He was himself. He was so irreverent,” Nash explains. “I was writing songs with (chords) A, D. and E and I’m out of there. David was writing such intricate chord patterns. He had the words cognitive dissonance and antithesis in the same song lyric. I was writing ‘I want you now.'”

Crosby, then a member of the Byrds, introduced Nash to Stephen Stills, who at the time was a member of the Buffalo Springfield along with the enigmatic Neil Young. The trio decided to see how they would sound together. They started with a Stills song “You Don’t Have to Cry”. After hearing the song, Nash asked Stills and Crosby to sing it one more time. “We then hit that 3-part harmony and we all started laughing. It was great. What a thing to hear. Our sound was born in 40 seconds,” Nash said.

“From the moment I heard me and David and Stephen sing, I wanted that sound,” Nash said. “So what the hell was I supposed to do? I left my wife. I left my band. I left England and came to America”.

But Nash, who will be 72 on his next birthday, readily credits England, his family, and his friend (and later Hollies band mate) Allen Clarke (whom he 1st met in school as a 6-year-old) with his musical beginnings.

“I have a vivid memory of blackout curtains (used in British homes during World War II),” Nash said. “After the war, it was a very strange existence. As youngsters we had nothing to do. At the time, you were supposed to grow up and do what your Dad did. But my mother and father never let me fall for that. I knew from the age of 13 that I wanted to be a rock and roll musician. I’ve actually been a photographer longer than I have been a musician. But I knew I couldn’t get girls with a camera. That wasn’t happening. Nobody was saying that’s a sexy camera. But a guitar …”

One of Nash’s greatest influences were Don and Phil Everly. He and Clark found out they were performing in their city. “It was April, 1960 and we were dying to met them,” Nash said. So they went to the show and then staked out the hotel where they were sure the Everly Brothers were staying. Finally, at 1:20 a.m., the brothers came down the street. Nash and Clark approached them. “They were great. They talked to us for 20 minutes. We were so happy. In many ways, we are all trying to touch the flame of that which we admire”.  At the time, Nash never imagined that over the years he would actually get to perform and sing with his idols on several occasions.

Nash said he enjoyed his time with the Hollies, but came to disagree with their musical directions. The group wanted to continue focusing on making hit singles; Nash wanted more. “Being around those (California) people changed me. I learned you could write a song about real stuff and still sell records,” he said.

Another seminal figure in Nash’s musical development was Joni Mitchell. “How could you live with a genius and not have something rub off?” Nash said of the years he and Mitchell were a couple. In fact, Nash says he feels so fortunate to have found 2 great loves in life – Joni and his current wife of 37 years, Susan. “She keeps my feet on the ground,” he said.

And then, of course, there’s Crosby. “This guy never ceases to amaze me,” Nash said. “He’s probably on his 15th life, but I think he has finally realized that he is not invincible”.

In fact, an incident involving one of Crosby’s escapades was the only thing the publishers of Nash’s book questioned. “Legal called me and said I had to check on the story that David sold his Mercedes for crack (cocaine). It seems David wanted to get his car back so he went to the dealer’s house and found him dead from a drug OD (over dose). So David stole his pink slip back. When I asked him about the story, David said not only was it true, there was more. He actually resold the car again to get more crack”.

Nash said he is constantly grateful for the life he has lived. “My father was dead at 46 and so sometimes, I feel I’m living 2 lives,” he said. He said a few years ago, he asked his mother why she and his father had been so supportive of his choice to risk all with music. “You’re living my life,” she told him. After she died, Nash was playing a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. “I scattered some of her ashes there he said, adding that he still does that whenever he performs on a stage he believes his mother would have liked to have sung.

As for the political nature of much of his songwriting, Nash again cites Crosby. “Crosby has always spoken truth to power. I’ve always been for the underdog. I think the media wants us to focus on (Justin) Bieber’s monkey or the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass, but music is so much more than that,” he said.

Nash said that the political stands both he and the various configurations CSN&Y have assumed over the years, have effected the group’s popularity. On their last tour together during the George W. Bush years, the band played a song “Let’s Impeach the President”. In some southern venues, that stance caused some of the crowd to walk out.  “I mean they have the right to walk out, but Holy Toledo, if you buy a ticket to a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young concert, what the heck do you expect?”

Like so many other great songwriters, Nash cannot offer a formula for what he does. “Once I write a song, it has to make it through me. I only write for me. I have to be moved before I can write,” He explained. He did, however, note with a laugh, one time when the process was speeded up. “I was at a dinner party and somebody said, ‘you’re supposed to be a big star. I bet you can’t write a song before you go,” Nash noted. So he left the room and came back in about 20 minutes with a completed version of “Just a Song Before I Go”.  The song reached #7 on the Billboard charts in 1977, making it CSN&Y’s highest climbing hit. “Yes, I really do love what I get to do,” Nash repeats. “I know so many people that have had their dreams crushed, but I get to live mine everyday”.

Santana Scores, Rod Stewart Not So Much in Arena Concert

You could say we’re in a 4th generation of rock concerts. In the early 60s, multiple groups would appear together on one bill, each playing a few of their hits. By the late 60s, popular bands like The Rolling Stones would headline a show, with 2 or more opening acts playing shorter sets for exposure. As the century ended, huge acts like U2 or Bruce Springsteen would play for 3 or more hours without an opening act. In recent years, with money tight and concert costs climbing, there has been a new development – 2 acts who once filled arenas as headliners sharing a co-billed tour.

This year, for example, we have Def Leopard and Kiss, Motley Crue and Alice Cooper, Jeff Beck and Z. Z. Top, and Pat Benatar and Cher.

Last night, a co-billed tour of Carlos Santana and Rod Stewart performed at the Verizon Center as part of their tour labeled The Voice, The Guitar, The Songs

Santana explained his reasoning behind the pairing:

“People ask me, ‘Carlos, what do you and brother Rod have in common?” I say well, we both listened to Sam Cooke. We both listened to Otis Redding. We both listened to Etta James. We both listened to Nina Simone. Now, we both play black music for white people. And we both like to drive the girls crazy.”

Santana, backed by a tight band including another guitar player, a keyboard player, a bass player, a drummer, 2 percussionists, 2 horn players, and 2 vocalists, then proceeded to deliver a blistering 90-minute set of tunes spanning his 45-year career.

For long-time fans, there was “Black Magic Woman” segueing into “Oye Coma Va.: There was “Jin-go-la-ba” from his first album. Complete with the No Rain chant and clips from Woodstock, there was the encore, the iconic “Soul Sacrifice.”

There were also songs for newer fans like “Maria Maria” and “Smooth.”

There were also several welcome surprises including a rousing version of “Tequilla” by the Champs, a guest appearance by guitar great Jimmy Herring on on the blues tune “If Anyone Can” and interspersed snippets of such rock classics as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (the Beatles), “Third Stone from the Sun” (Jimi Hendrix), “Low Rider” (War), and even “The Pink Panther Theme” (Henry Mancini).

But while Santana played as powerfully as ever, the years appear not to have been as kind to Stewart, who delivered an hour-and-45-minute set more Vegas smooth than Woodstock raw. Even his great hit “Maggie May” sounded perfunctory and he spent more times kicking soccer balls to the crowd during “Hot Legs” than he did singing.

In fact, the high point of the set was Santana’s re-emergence to join Stewart on a cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.” After the pair traded vocal lines and guitar licks, Stewart told the crowd “We’ve been on this tour for 2 months and every night Carlos comes out and plays something completely different. That inspires me to sing the song differently.”

Hopefully, there may be more such inspiring help on the way.  Prior to playing “Stay with Me,” Stewart told the crowd, “A long time ago, I played in a band called The Faces. We keep talking about getting back together and we will do it. But we better hurry.”

I hope the Faces do reunite. Or Stewart and Jeff Beck can patch up differences and tour as The Jeff Beck Group. Because until that version of “Rod the Mod” returns I think I’ve seen enough of the “Vegas Review Rod.”

So as someone who has seen you in concert more than 10 times since 1968, I’m urging you – please make those calls right away. I want my old Rod Stewart back. If Carlos, and Mick, and Paul can do it, you can, too.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It
More Santana/Stewart from The Prices Do DC
Apparently, the Santana over Stewart DC night was typical of the tour. Here is a review from Jon Bream in The Minneapolis Star Tribune that, with a few exceptions,  could just have easily described last night’s Washington show.

Rediscovering Toby Beau and “My Angel Baby” While Cruising the Hawaiian Islands

Toby Beau — On and off stage they are Balde Silva and Rennetta Dennett Silva

In 1978, I was playing in a South Jersey band called Time Peace. We were performing classic rock songs, as well as some radio hits of the time. One song that was always well received was “My Angel Baby,” a No. 1 hit by a band called Toby Beau.

Now I hadn’t thought about “My Angel Baby” or Toby Beau for 40 years. But that changed earlier this month when my wife and I boarded The Pride of America for a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands and discovered that Toby Beau was going to be performing two shows on the ship. 

In its original format, Toby Beau was a five-piece band out of southern Texas. Today, it’s a duo consisting of Balde Silva, the original singer and co-writer of “My Angel Baby,” and his wife Rennetta Dennet Silva, who has been with Silva since the ‘70s.

During about five hours of informal chatting and formal interviewing over three days, Balde, sometimes joined by the striking and incredibly friendly Rennetta, told me the 40-year story of Toby Beau.

Like so many music lovers who later became musicians, Balde vividly recalls the moment when he realized music could be more than his passion; he wanted it to be his life’s work. “It was seeing the Doors on Ed Sullivan”, Balde says. “You could hear that Vox organ and that guitar. And then there was Jim Morrison.”

Around that time, a couple of Balde’s older cousins formed a rock band and young Balde was given an important job. One of the guitar chords could short out when it was put in an amp, so as the band rehearsed, Balde would hold the chord steady so it wouldn’t wiggle. As the band played, he would sing along. Soon, he found himself fronting the band as lead vocalist.

“The singer they had wasn’t very good and I could sing pretty well. So we switched positions. He started holding the chord and I became the lead singer,” Balde says, chuckling as he recalled his inauspicious introduction to the rock band world.

After playing with several configurations of South Texas musicians, Balde found himself with the four other musicians who would become the first version of Toby Beau. The band was named after one of the last shrimp boats docked in the Gulf Coast community of Port Isabel, Texas.

The group started out performing covers in clubs all over Texas, but eventually began writing songs of their own. One of those songs was “My Angel Baby,” co-written by Balde and now-deceased guitarist and band member Danny McKenna. Soon, the group signed a major three-record deal with RCA and found they were going to be produced by KISS producer Sean Delaney.

Balde said the band’s rise was rapid and eye-opening. “One day we were playing in these greasy bars in San Antonio and the next day we were recording in New York with all these big bands,” Balde noted.

Propelled by the band’s first single “My Angel Baby,” Toby Beau was soon getting airplay all over the country and Canada. The single, with its updated 1950s feel and harmonica solo reminiscent of something like the Rascals might have recorded in their heyday, spent 13 weeks climbing the Billboard charts. It reached No. 1 on the Easy Listening charts, while rising to No. 13 on the pop charts. “My Angel Baby” quickly earned gold for receiving more than a million radio plays.

Suddenly, the band found itself touring with many of the biggest acts of the ‘70s such as the Doobie Brothers, Bob Seger, the Steve Miller Band, Steely Dan, and ZZ Top, all of whom are now enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“That was a wild time,” Rennetta says. “Wild, but fun while you were young”.

But when the band began recording its second album, problems developed. They tried recording in New York City, Miami, and Nashville, but were unable to recapture the magic of “My Angel Baby”. When finally released, the second album did include a cover of “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” written by John D. Loudermilk, who also composed the classic “Tobacco Road”. “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” had previously been the number 6 pop hit for the Casinos in 1967 and a No. 1 on the country charts for Eddy Arnold in 1968. The 1979 version by Toby Beau only reached 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and 7 on the Adult Contemporary List.

By the completion of that album, all four of Balde’s fellow band members had left the group. However, he decided to record the third album for RCA on his own, a move which allowed him to retain the rights to use the name Toby Beau.

After that album, Balde and Renetta, accompanied by various musicians, toured as Toby Beau, playing smaller music venues and festivals, clubs, and bars. As the 21 Century dawned, the two – now just a duo – found themselves also working on cruise ships. After 7 years, Balde and Rennetta wanted to forego cruise performance. However, their agent said they should do one more cruise.

“I heard Rennetta holler in the background, ‘See if we can do something in Hawaii. We’ve never been there’. Well that was 12 years ago and since then we have been right here performing on the ship,” Balde explained.

The Pride of America cruises around Hawaii all 52 weeks of the year, so the Toby Beau duo can book work as much as they want. Currently, their contract specifies that they perform two shows, one on Saturday night and one on Sunday night. That means they have the rest of the cruise to do what they want, which often involves exploring the islands. It also means they can have an almost-regular scheduled. For example, Rennetta apologized for cutting our chat short on Sunday night because she and her husband always make that movie date night while the ship is docked overnight in Kawai.

As for the two shows, one a tribute to the Beatles and the other to the Eagles, are unique. Balde and Rennetta play the performance live, but the drums and other backing instruments have been pre-recorded by Balde for live playback.

Actually, the pre-recordings have a live feel, not like many such accompaniments that sound artificial and machine-like. Balde explained there is a simple reason for that fact. “I guess you heard a few mistakes,” he said. “I was going to take them out, but when I listened to them I thought such things occur in live performances so I left them in,” he said.

To enhance the accuracy of the show, Balde employs some the same guitars that George Harrison, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney used for the Beatles and Glen Fry, Bernie Leadon, Don Felder, and Joe Walsh played for specific Eagles songs.

The show itself is unique for such tribute concerts. Balde has chosen one song from each album of the Beatles and the Eagles that truly captures the sound of the band at the time the LP was released. Balde and Rennetta alternate telling the story of the groups, meaning that their show is not only musically interesting, but a lesson in rock music history and popular culture as well.

From the reaction and applause both nights, the duo’s talents and the shows’ formats are being enthusiastically received by the cruise showroom audiences. One highlight of the Beatles’ night was a show-closing rendition of the classic “Hey Jude,” complete with an audience singalong and in-time, above-the-head hand waving. My personal favorite from the two nights was a spirited “Life in Fast Lane,” while the audience appeared awed at Toby Beau’s close cover version of the Eagles “Hotel California” from the band’s best-selling album by the same name.

The positive reception was demonstrated quite a few times during our interview-chat sessions as cruisers would stop by our table to tell Balde and Rennetta how much they enjoyed the shows and talk music with the pair.

I will be writing much more about Toby Beau in the future (they will play a major role in my third book in what I am calling my Rock of Agers series which looks at how rock & roll evolved into rock, which today continues its popularity as classic rock), but here are the answers to two questions I asked: 

The first – are you disappointed that your hits came early and because of changing conditions in the music industry you haven’t been able to replicate that success?

“No,” Balde answers emphatically. “I’ve always enjoyed live performing more than studio work. I love seeing the fans, watching their reactions, and getting a chance to talk to them. And getting to do it with Rennetta makes it that much better”. 

And the final – Balde, do you have regrets about spending 40 years in the music businesses with all its inherent ups and downs?

“When I was young, all I wanted to do was sing. And that’s all I’ve ever done. I dreamed of being a rock-and-roller and that’s what I became. My advice now to young people is never give up on your dream and always be ready when the dream comes – for it can come out of nowhere so you have to be ready”. 


            As an author who writes articles and books about classic rock I have the great opportunity to meet many people in the music business. Some are nice. Some are not. Some are normal. Some are not. But few I have are as engaging and friendly as Balde and Rennetta. I think the fact that they have been together for 40+ years in a business where 40 months in the more the average speaks strongly to their dedication and character. In fact, I’m certain that if they lived next door, you would want them for friends. Plus, the three of us could probably talk for years about the highs and lows of the music business, along with stories of all the fascinating people you run into. 

            If you do or don’t recall Toby Beau or “My Angel Baby,”, make yourself a note to check them out if you get a chance. You won’t be disappointed. And, if you want, you can tell them Dave sent you.