PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! THE DEFINITIVE 4TH PARADE HEAD COUNT, plus … THE COLONIALS’ GREAT ADVERT FOR BASEBALL, WHAT WENT WRONG WITH THE FIREWORKS, AND JOSH CUTLER REVIEWS JAMES TAYLOR
By DAN VALENTI
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, JULY 5, 2011) — Attendance, tremendous ball game, chintzy fireworks, and another JT review: These four items occupy our time this delightful morning deep in haven’s hinterland, otherwise known as The Berkshires.
ATTENDANCE — A serendipitous confluence of events enabled us to finally provide the most accurate number for a Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade ever recorded. For years, we’ve been given wildly fictitious and inflated numbers, ranging between 100,000 and 125,000 attendance. Not close, and we all knew it. Those numbers go unchallenged … until now.
The lucky chain of events included visitors from Texas, including a professor of demographics, whose specialty falls in an exotic category of sociology called Statistical Analysis of Crowd Density (SACD). The SACD process, which we outlined in a previous post, combines computer software, grid-map analysis, aerial photography, and live sampling to determine the number of people at an event such as the parade. It’s a specialized process much in demand for any market that draws large numbers of uncounted people (for example, political rallies).
Incidentally, THE PLANET kept our word. We attended the parade incognito, and no one knew who we were, not even members of the parade committee — even though we walked right by them and talked to a couple of them! Houdini would have been proud. THE PLANET pretty much did the parade route to watch Prof. X and his assistants put StatTrack(r) to work.
And now the number you have all been waiting for: According to the analysis, 34,270 attended the parade and the parade route. The figure, which excludes those in the parade and those who worked the parade, is about 1/3 the “official” estimate. Thus, THE PLANET has proven what an engineer friend told us 10 years ago: “There’s no way they can have that many people (100,000). The crowds would have to be 15 deep all along the route.”
Parades are fun, certainly, but with 1/3 the people as advertised, they aren’t worth $90,000, particularly when most of the big attractions are paid, mercenary talent imported for the occasion, with nothing “hometown” about them.
Now that the parade is over, the Marchetti for Mayor bandwagon can get rolling!
TREMENDOUS BALL GAME — The 1-0 game at Beloved Wahconah Park is THE PLANET’s personal favorite type contest: a low-scoring affair in which pitching and defense dominate. Johnyy Welch’s home run in the second provided all the scoring.
In a game like this, every pitch assumes an importance, every play a magnitude that plays just don’t have in a blowout. Baseball becomes chess. Think about it: In a 1-0 game, literally every batter that comes up for the training team represents the tying run. That’s a lot of pressure on the pitcher, and Pat Moran (eight innings shut out ball) and closer Matt Lyons answered the call. Both were “money” in clutch situations.
The game, played before 4,009 people at BWP, advertised the great brand of ball featured in the Can-Am League. The crisply played game will bring many people back into the stands, and it may save the future of the team in Pittsfield.
FIREWORKS FIZZLE — THE PLANET received a ton of complaints about the alleged fireworks show after the game. The fireworks began and never got going. After about five minutes, the relatively tame first volleys began to get more interesting. About five minutes more, however, and they stopped. Just like that. No Grand Finale. No majestic bursts leading up to the Grand Finale. Nothing.
The puzzled crowd hung around for a couple minutes with nothing happening. Finally, the PA announcer thanked the fans, and we found out: It was over, just like that. A lot of people were disappointed and angered.
Later, we heard rumors but haven’t confirmed that the fireworks display had to be halted because of an injury that occurred to a member of the fireworks team. We heard that a a MediVac helicopter had been summoned but neither saw or heard one arrive.
In any case, the Colonials’ goofed in not making an announcement. Clearly, what we saw as the fireworks display COULDN’T have been the fireworks display intended. No one, not even the city of Pittsfield, could be that chintzy. In fact, the city typically does a good job with this.
Anyone with definitive information on what happened should contact THE PLANET at this website or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SWEET BABY JAMES — Finally, here’s Josh Cutler’s review of the final of four James Taylor concerts this weekend at Tanglewood:
By JOSH CUTLER
PLANET VALENTI Arts
(LENOX, Mass., Monday, July 4th, 2011) —
“Welcome to Tanglewood, the finest place in the world!”
To the 18,000 fans who packed the lawn and shed of the Tanglewood Music Center, these words from James Taylor couldn’t have been truer on a pristine July 4th evening in the Berkshires.
Taylor, a Washington resident, concluded his series of four concerts at Tanglewood Monday evening with his second performance featuring his full band, as well as a pair of special guests, country music superstars and husband-and-wife tandem, Vince Gill and Amy Grant.
Taylor and his band took the stage to a standing ovation at 7:15 pm, as the opening tones of Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” traveled through the Koussevitzky Music Shed.
While introducing his old hit “Something in the Way She Moves,” Taylor joked about the influence that his work had on the members of the Beatles, who signed him to his first recording contract in 1968: “Paul (McCartney) liked it enough to sign me to Apple Records, and George (Harrison) liked it so much that he went home and wrote it.”
Taylor spent much of the first half playing old standbys and crowd pleasers for his diehard fans, many of whom view Tanglewood as the “Holy Grail” of Taylor concerts). These songs included the upbeat “Your Smiling Face,” “Country Road,” “Carolina in My Mind,” and “Up on the Roof,” originally penned by Gerry Goffin and Carole King for The Drifters. Taylor was in fine voice for most of the evening, though at times the wear and tear of a lengthy spring tour showed itself when he reached for high notes.
Just prior to intermission, Taylor called out Gill and Grant for what he deemed a “sneak peak” at what was to come in the second half of the show. Taylor, Gill, and Taylor’s band backed Grant for her 1994 hit, “House of Love”.
Having a longtime reputation of being accessible and cordial with fans, Taylor spent the 20-minute intermission posing for pictures and autographing tickets, programs, and assorted memorabilia for the legions of fans gathered at the stage trying to get a brief glimpse of the 63-year-old troubadour.
Taylor returned for the second half with a pair of cuts off of his 1991 “New Moon Shine” album, “Copperline” and “Gotta Stop Thinkin’ Bout That,” as well as his 1972 ballad “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” featuring Walt Fowler’s subtle but poignant trumpet solo.
Taylor then called Gill and Grant back out, as they were given the stage to perform some of the songs which made them respected musicians in the Nashville community. Gill kicked off their set with a lilting version of “My Pretty Little Adriana,” featuring his soft but appropriate guitar leads as the song faded out.
Gill then introduced “Whenever You Come Around” as a tribute to Grant, his wife of 11 years. Gill said that the inspiration for the song came from the first time he met Grant: “I came away thinking she was the nicest person I had ever met it my life, but I was really taken with the beauty of her smile”
Grant then followed with her 1991 track “Baby Baby,” which she explained she is more appreciative of its’ success today having to support a 21-year-old daughter: “I’m glad this song was a hit, because it bought her her first three books in her junior year of college.”
Taylor then took over for the rest of the evening, playing some of his most beloved hits, including “Sweet Baby James,” “Mexico,” and “Fire and Rain,” which he explained the roots of had a deep genesis to the Berkshires: “I wrote this about two miles in that direction (points towards Stockbridge) at Austen Riggs (Psychiatric Hospital).”
Taylor’s encores, which also featured Grant and Gill backing him up on vocals, included the Holland-Dozier-Holland rocker “How Sweet it Is,” “Shower the People” (featuring longtime backup singer Arnold McCuller), and “You Can Close Your Eyes,” for which Taylor was accompanied only by his backup vocalists and his guitar.
Taylor was backed by his longtime group of legendary session musicians, including Fowler (Trumpet), Michael Landau (electric guitars), Jimmy Johnson (bass), Larry Goldings (piano), Chad Wackerman (drums), Luis Conte (percussion), Andrea Zonn (fiddle and vocals), as well as backup vocalists McCuller, David Lasley, Kate Markowitz, and Kim Taylor.
Following the concert, a spectacular fireworks display over Stockbridge Bowl commemorated the Fourth of July holiday.
Something in the Way She Moves
Line ‘Em Up
Carolina in My Mind
My Traveling Star
Up On The Roof
House of Love (Grant)
Gotta Stop Thinkin’ Bout That
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
My Pretty Little Adriana (Gill)
Better Than a Hallelujah (Grant)
Whenever You Come Around (Gill)
Baby Baby (Grant)
Sweet Baby James
Fire and Rain
Shed a Little Light
How Sweet it is
Shower the People
You Can Close Your Eyes
Start Time: 7:15 PM
End Time: 10:00 PM
Total Run Time: 2 Hours, 45 Minutes