The Musical Box review: From historical re-enactment to tribute band

Last night I saw The Musical Box perform their Genesis Extravaganza in Grand Rapids. I had seen the band perform a few times before in Cleveland where they recreated the tours of “Foxtrot” and “Selling England by the Pound.”

What really set them apart from other “tribute bands” was that they recreated the entire show, with the same instruments and amplifiers, stage banter, costumes and special effects. All of it came from the same time and was engrossing.

What was different about this show is that the musicians did not “play” the members of Genesis; rather, they were themselves playing the music of Genesis.


The first section was from the “Trick of the Tail” / “Wind and Wuthering” era. The music was fine, but the vocals were, honestly, distracting. To be fair, while I like those albums, they are not my favorite.

They followed that with selections from “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.” Again, great to hear those songs performed live, but didn’t have the same effect as pervious performances. After seeing selections, I wanted to experience the whole album.

However seeing the original slides in the background was worth the performance alone. It really drove home what the band was doing on their most ambitious tour.

(The funniest moment of the night was when, just as “Back in NYC” began, a man stormed the stage like it was a heavy metal show. He turned to the audience to join him, but no one did. Security had to tell him to sit down. I sympathize. I, too, would have been bouncing around if there were no chairs.)

After the intermission, they delved into the early Genesis and Peter Gabriel work. I didn’t know if this would be similar to the shows they played in the past and was surprised when it wasn’t.

They opened with “Time Table,” followed by several songs I’m not sure Genesis frequently played live, including the great “Can-Utility and the Coastliners.”

The highlight for me was “Looking For Someone” from Tresspass, a song I haven’t really given many plays. It was a spectacular piece of Prog I have overlooked.

The Musical Box played one song that Genesis never performed live “After the Ordeal.”

“We’ve always wanted to play this live,” singer Denis Gagné said from stage. And that perfectly summarized the show. While they’ve reenacted Genesis in the past, to great effect, they are at heart fans of the music and band. They want to play their favorite songs, damn historical accuracy.

This was their time to be more like a tribute band than a historical performance, and it was a joy to witness.



Website redesign, hosting changes and new name

I recently began a process of moving all of my websites over to Squarespace. For years, I’ve hosted on Wordpress and really enjoyed it, but as I’ve become more and more busy with work and other things in life, I’ve had less time to focus on the websites.

Much of the time, I found, was playing webmaster.

It’s something I enjoy, but realize more time was spent managing the site than actually writing. So I looked around and Squarespace made sense. Yes, it costs a more than what I was paying before, but the simplicity is worth it (right now).

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Review of Gabriela Montero

I had a great time attending (and reviewing) Gabriela Montero’s piano recital last as part of the Gilmore. Kalamazoo is fortunate to have such a great arts scene. And a classical music concert with improvisation, it was beyond exciting. I was reminded a lot of Robert Fripp’s description of improvisation: “spontaneous composition.” I had to keep myself from including that in the article.

Check out the review here.

Not settling on Prime Day

I wrote this last year on the night of Prime Day. I decided to hold off on publishing it until this year’s sale. Every Amazon Prime Day I become excited at the thought of saving money on items I have been on my list for a while.

For example: I’ve wanted a Sous Vide for a while, and there’s a pretty good deal on the Bluetooth model. But I know I want the wifi one, so I can start cooking when I’m at work or out for the day.

Now, is it worth an extra $100? Probably not. But it’s a feature I’d use frequently. So I’m holding off.

Same for the Kindles. They are on sale, but I want to get the one with 3G (always have had Kindles with this, makes downloading and syncing content on the go easier). But they are not on sale.

As I am working to limit the number of items I have, I really don’t see a reason to settle on what I buy. I’m going to spend a little money on what I really want and will use.

The Amazon Prime Day sales are tempting, but the savings are not worth settling for something that’s not exactly what I want.

The simplicity of having two phones

With the recent purchase of an iPhone X, it also reintroduced an additional item to my everyday carry: a second phone. No, I do not have a day and a night phone, but a personal and a work phone.

A lot of people ask right away: why would you want to carry around two phones? Yes, it does add more bulk. I have to keep track of a second device and its charge. Sometimes I pull out one phone meaning the other. But, in the past two weeks, the benefits have outweighed the hassle in ways I wasn’t expecting.

With my job working in digital and social media, I use my phone for a lot of my work — from taking photos, monitoring accounts and posting to social media. This work happens at all hours of the day.

Previously, everything was blended together on one phone. It was distracting. But having the second personal phone actually simplifies things for me. Each device serves it’s own purpose. When I’m at home, I can open my personal iPhone and not get distracted with work stuff. When I’m focusing on work, it’s on that phone.

Now, there are some overlap. iMessages, for example, go to both of my phone so I don’t miss anything. I’ve also played around with the WiFi call forwarding, but not sure how it works in practice. But my work and personal e-mail accounts go to their respective phones, and it’s great.

We’ll see how I feel about having the two phones in the coming months. Right now, it’s actually allowed me to focus on what I’m doing every day.