At the Theatre with Audrey Linden
One can’t get more patriotic than having a program featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by John Morris Russell in a red, white and blue bow tie, the U. S Air Force Band of the Golden West, and iconic Steve Martin with Edie Brickell and the Steep Canyon Rangers at the Hollywood Bowl.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra played traditional patriotic music the first half of the evening under the baton of Russell beginning with a special rendition of Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner. That was followed by Silvestri’s ‘Captain America March” and a rousing, “The Launch” by P. Anthony. The U. S. Air Force Band joined in on the “Thor Suite”. Russell kept up the long-standing tradition of having members of the armed forces stand as the music of each of their forces was played in the “Armed Forces Salute”. It was heartwarming to applaud those who fought to save our freedom. The man in the box next to ours had a top hat and flag bow tie on and the women had sparkling tiaras. Many waved bright day glow sticks. I felt proud to be an American and it was good to get in touch with that feeling. Russell and the Los Angeles Philharmonic did a moving “Hymn to the Fallen”, in which Russell reminded us that “freedom is not free; hundreds of thousands laid down their lives for us.” Afterwards, we all joined in on “God Bless America.”
After the intermission, Steve Martin introduced the Steep Canyon Rangers, and the very talented group gave us a slice of rural Americana. Their country blue grass folk music was refreshing and spoke of a simpler and gentle folk who tell their stories set to music. Steve Martin showed us why we have loved him as the host of the Oscars. He has such a wonderful dry wit. I loved his banter and remarks. He has his own brand of humor and I doubt anyone else could get away with his simplistic set up and delivery.
Steve Martin is the master of this type of droll humor and it is as American and basic as apple pie. He had some gems. He invited the audience to sing-along to songs….with no lyrics. There was a wonderful set-up when Steve said, “The moment this stops being fun, we quit”. On cue, all of the band members and Edie Brickell, lead singer, put down their instruments and walked away leaving a baffled Steve Martin alone on stage. Martin was in fine form and this gave him a few minutes to do some patter and connect with his audience. He said he’s always asked how to make it as a musician. He said he has two rules: Be creative and already be famous. Good advice!
Martin introduced each band member with some choice Martinesque comments. When he introduced his tour partner, Edie Brickell, he gave us some tidbits about her. “Her favorite movie is “Father of the Bride” and her favorite Oscar host is ….me.” “But, enough about Edie.” Kidding aside, Steve Martin not only is a very good actor, comic, entertainer,and writer; he is a very talented banjo player, song writer and singer. Yes, he wrote many of the songs as “Jubilation Day” which he explained was about a romantic breakup. Not all break ups are bad. There is a feeling of elation and freedom. “Sex was great.” “At least that’s what my best friend’s brother said.” The first song he wrote was “Daddy Played the Banjo” but Steve Martin’s father did not, “not the remote authority figure my dad was.”
Martin said he has been playing the banjo fifty years and has been playing for audiences on stage for five. Sometimes, he’s fine, and other times…well. He saw Eric Clapton live and, “I thought….
“He’s not so.... funny.” He had six banjos, lead singer-guitarist, Woody Platt, Mike Guggino, mandolin , Graham Sharp, five string banjo, Charles Humphrey, bass, Nicky Sanders violin, Mike Ashworth, keys, percussion, and Martin's tour partner, singer, song writer-guitarist, Edie Brickell. He and Brickell won a Grammy for Best American Roots Song. There were some stand out moments. The audience was blown away by the very talented Nicky’s “Auden’s Train”. The fancy fiddling and finger work was awesome. Nicky captured the feeling of a speeding train. He had the tempo, the sounds. Brilliant! The audience was on its feet with applause.
When Martin and the band exited, we were treated to the best pyrotechnics with John Russell conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic to Sousa Marches, Semper Fidelis, Stars and Stripes Forever, and the Bowl’s shell was ablaze like the American flag with red and white stripes, and blue with white stars. It was all a visual spectacular as the fireworks shot up into the darkened sky. At the end of the fireworks, we saw the Statue of Liberty, holding her torch in bright green lights on top of the Bowl's shell.
Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers closed the evening with “Me and Paul Revere”. It was a lovely birthday celebration for America. More than 12,000 were in the audience with me Wednesday for this sold out event. I cannot think of a better way to spend July 2, 3 or 4th! I have spent at least the last ten years at the Hollywood Bowl. It is a very good tradition!
There are many more exciting programs during the summer at the Hollywood Bowl. There is something for everyone with classical nights, sing-alongs, jazz, etc. “Hair.” “Grease-Sing-Along", “Dreamworks Animation”, Reggae Night”, Gloria Estefan, John Williams, and more. You can go on line to www.hollywoodbowl.com to check out the summer programs for "cool music" on hot summer nights. 323-850-2000.
Audrey Linden is a writer, actress and singer. She can be seen in a long-running “Associated Tax Resolution” commercial, two “Little Caesars” spots, a “Teva International Pharmaceutical” short, Gene Simmons’ “Family Jewels,” “America’s Court with Judge Ross,” VHS “Tough Love 2,” “Wendy’s” etc.
Audrey teaches ON CAMERA COMMERCIAL and IMPROV COMEDY WORKSHOPS through the City of Beverly Hills. To register, call 310-285-6850. Her classes are held at 241 Moreno Dr. B.H. 90212. Her classes are on-going in June through July and start again in September. For more information, contact Audrey at firstname.lastname@example.org