Review of concert at 1999-06-05 - San Francisco, CA, Polo Grounds in Golden Gate Park (Fleadh Festival)
Rolling Stone, 1999-06-07
- Richard Skanse, Jaan Uhelski


Really Randoms:
Elvis Costello

200x200 (17K)
Driving in the Irish spike.

Elvis Costello and John Lee Hooker rock the Fleadh, Mel Torme dead at 73 and more

The kickoff of this year's Guinness Fleadh at San Francisco's Polo Fields on Sunday (June 6) proved not only that you don't have to be Irish to attend, but you didn't have to be a son or daughter of Eire to perform. Half of the mainstage performers have never even set foot on the Emerald Isle, unless they were stepping off a tour bus. But according to promoters, they wanted artists who embodied the singer-songwriter tradition of the land of the Leprechauns -- and they weren't asking them to pull out their immigration papers in order to perform here. But who would have the courage to make John Lee Hooker do anything of the sort? The eighty-one-year-old style-meister, dressed head-to-toe in palomino beige, arrived in his own limo bearing the license plates "Chil Out," and did exactly that in front of the 40,000-plus fans huddled together in the fog to stay warm. Hooker took the crowd through his biggest hits, like "Boom, Boom," "Crawling Kingsnake Boogie" and "Baby Lee," performing the final song on his feet rather than cradling one of his arsenal of guitars on his lap. He danced, cavorted and leered, looking like a man half his age. But he did not look Irish. It wasn't until Dublin resident Elvis Costello took the stage that anyone even acknowledged that this was an Irish cultural bash. "There's a rumor going around that there are some Irish people coming around today," Costello said. When no one responded, he said it again, adding "Well, then, here's a few songs about Ireland," before launching into "Oliver's Army," the tradition-bound "Any King's Shilling" from 1989's Spike, as well as the theme to a BBC TV show on Irish Americans called Long Journey Home that he penned with the Chieftains' Paddy Moloney. The Fleadh heads east next week for a June 12 stop at the Chicago Motor Speedway, followed by Boston's Suffolk Downs (June 19) and New York's Randall's Island (June 26) . . .

The truth has finally come out. Debbie Harry wore a wig. And if your price is right at Clear Channel Communications' June 12 celebrity auction, the famous platinum mane could be yours. The auction will be held during an online broadcast of KIIS FM's 100.7's Wild Wild Wango Tango (at, a multi-artist concert at Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium featuring Ricky Martin, Will Smith, Britney Spears, UB40 and Blondie. The performers will be pitching in their own wares for bidding. The goods -- including Martin's autographed silver vinyl pants -- can soon be ogled at Promoters promise that a portion of the proceeds from the auction will go to the Dodger Dream Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House . . .

 Jazz and standards singer/songwriter Mel Torme, dubbed "The Velvet Fog" for his warm croon and counted by Frank Sinatra as one of his few true contemporaries, died of complications from his 1996 stroke Saturday (June 5) at the UCLA Medical Center. He was seventy-three. Torme, who was born in Chicago in 1925, began singing at age four and helped support his family through the Depression. He would go on to pen more than three hundred songs (including "Comin' Home, Baby" and the seasonal standard "The Christmas Song") and rival Ella Fitzgerald as a scat singer par excellence. Torme also appeared in films (beginning with Higher and Higher with Sinatra in 1943) and wrote television screenplays (The Virginian) and several books, including novels, his autobiography, a biography of fellow jazz legend Buddy Rich and the critically acclaimed but controversial Judy Garland-based The Other Side of the Rainbow. Torme was honored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences with a lifetime achievement award at this year's Grammy Awards . . .

 Bad Boy Records producer Deric "D-Dot" Angellettie has been cleared of a second-degree assault charge in connection with the alleged attack on former Blaze editor Jesse Washington last November. Washington, who was fired from the hip-hop magazine in March for unrelated reasons, had previously named Angellettie and Anthony Hubbard as two of the four men who attacked him in his office. At the time, Washington said he suspected Angellettie was upset over a photo in Blaze which identified the producer as the anonymous "Madd Rapper." According to the Manhattan district attorney's office, Washington declined to be a witness for the prosecution . . .

(June 7, 1999)

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