Friday, August 07, 2009

Todd Rundgren

So there I was...................planted at ground zero in front of the stage at Ram's Head Live in Baltimore. The only way to get any closer would be to actually get up onto the stage........ahhhh the temptation. Hey......but I ain't complainin'...........I happened to be situated where Rachel Haden and Kasim Sulton would be directly in front of me. Oh.......I suppose I could have located myself directly in front of Todd Rundgren, but I probably would have been mauled by the extreme Toddheads that were already taking up that particular space. The show was about to begin........I got my beer in hand and I am ready to ingest every moment of the concert..........but before I go any further here..........I have to tell you the story within the story.

This particular concert was an important one for me. I had already seen the "Arena" concert at Antone's in Austin, Texas.......and it was fantastic. Kasim wasn't in the band at that time and this time he would we are talking 50% of Utopia here.........what is not to like about that? Also........this is home turf......and there was a redeeming value involved in this show. Many, many years ago Utopia was booked to perform at what was then called the Civic Center in Baltimore. I planned on attending and so did some of my friends. One friend, in particular, was really excited about the upcoming Utopia concert. Sadly, for some reason......and as I try to remember I think it was because of lack of ticket sales, I don't really know.......the concert was cancelled. Maybe there was some other reason. Needless to and my friends were heartbroken. It was a shock to us.........I remember that Murf was so upset by the bad news that he confined himself to his second floor bedroom and cranked up the "Ra" album on his stereo full loud that it could be heard spewing forth from his bedroom window all throughout the neighborhood. As it was.......the concert never happened.......but that never kept us from being huge fans...........needless to say....we were hurt by this and I had hoped that one day there would be some redemption. (I did manage to take a few friends with me to Radio City Music Hall to see the "Ra/Oops" concert.........but that wasn't in Baltimore.) We wanted Todd here.

Even though Todd has performed several concerts in the Baltimore area over the years since the cancelled Utopia show........none of the shows included the other members of Utopia. The "Nearly Human" concert and the "Second Wind" concert......along with the one-man shows were all fantastic.......but we longed for Utopia...........even though that was something never likely to ever happen again. So this time........with Kasim in the is as close as we could get and hopefully they would perform at least one or two Utopia would finally be some redemption.

When a Todd concert is to happen in the Baltimore area, I go into typical Toddhead mode and buy up several tickets. These shows mean alot to me...........Rundgren's music has been so much a part of my existence.......moreso probably than any other music.........that I want to share it with everyone I can. For this concert, I called Murf.........he was onboard for the show............I called Dean Martin and he was onboard (Dean never saw a Todd show before).......both of my sons were onboard. We could not get the other Murf to come to the show.......he declined for various good reasons......but he was with us in spirit.......after all.......the Uncle Murray Band......what happens to one of us, happens to all of us......hehehe. What more could I ask for?.......I have two of my best friends on the planet and my two sons going with me to see a Todd show........and THIS TIME it will be half of Utopia on that stage!

I had a plan......well....not really a plan.......more like a concept or an idea. I knew certain things about Todd shows and what could be expected and I figured I would expect some things to occur that my friends would enjoy as well as I would enjoy. I had told them that if we get there early, we might see Kasim walking around before we actually enter the venue. As it happens......we got there early and lo and behold.....Kasim comes walking past us....."Hi Guys!". We, of course let him continue on to wherever he was going. I had also told the guys we would stay late because I knew we would get an opportunity to get some autographs. Well...........more on that later.

I really wanted to take my camera to the show.....but cameras were not allowed according to the tickets.........and when I called the venue and asked about it, they informed me that cameras were not allowed. This, of course, pisses me off.......because I know full well that every person in the place has a cell phone that takes pictures and each and every one of them would be snapping away. Being the decent and honest law abiding dude that I am, I left my camera at home. I followed the rules......only to get to the show and see countless people with cameras.............what? I could have brought my own camera?! Needless to was a hit below the I had to improvise a bit........we would take as many pictures we could with my son's cell phone and with his CAMERA! that he smuggled in......hehehe......unfortunately....his camera is not as nice as my camera and the majority of pictures taken with it, ended up rather blurry and not worth putting up on this blog. Fortunately, some of the pictures were keepers and the cell phone shots weren't too bad.

Fortunately for me, Dean Martin said one of the guys where he works told him that he would see him at the show. His friend just so happened to be a photographer and he brought his camera. I have all of his concert photos and they are fantastic. I will post those pictures on the next blog entry. the concert started............and I just cannot describe how I felt. The hairs were standing on my was like being a teenager again...........well........maybe not.....but it was close............everybody in the crowd was either smiling with joy or so stunned and in awe that their mouths were hanging open as they stared at the band. I gotta say it folks.........this band ROCKED and were spot on! No mistakes. Nothing but perfection.

Fans of all ages were in attendance.......some even brought some rather young children along with them. Even the kids knew the Rundgren classics and sang along throughout the night.

My son, BooBoo, was really into it.........he sang and pumped his fist and shouted "Strike". At one point, while he was singing along with "Love Of The Common Man", a middle aged female Toddhead with kids reached over my shoulder to give my son a high-five. I never saw that happen before.

What can I say?...........This is what I saw when I looked up.

Rachel Haden did a great job on bass. And her backup vocals fit nicely.

What can I say about Todd? Why isn't this man in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?

Me and my son BooBoo watch as Kasim plays some keyboards. This was a first.......Kasim on keyboards and I think about it wasn't a first.......but rare. I gotta tell you..........Kasim was fantastic on guitar. We all know that he is one hell of a bass player and vocalist.

They rattled off song after was virtually non-stop for two hours. I absorbed every moment........I was in my element. It just doesn't get much better than this...........can it?

But it CAN get better. After the show, we immediately headed to the back of the venue where I knew that they would be loading up the equipment onto a truck.

I knew we could probably get some pictures of the band..........sure enough Jesse Gress was hanging around. He seemed a bit busy and shy. All in all it was like we had an exclusive.......there was only a small handful of fans standing on the sidewalk behind a barricade. It was as if nobody else had figured out that this was the place to be after any show at the Ram's Head Live!

Baltimore isn't the safest place on the planet. We were standing less than a half block away from the Police Headquarters. Police cars were parked along the side street where the venue exit is. It is pretty bad when you see a police car with an anti-theft steering wheel bar.

Rachel Haden never exited the building......but we could see her in the hallway, talking on a payphone. Also, Prairie Prince was nowhere to be found. Kasim Sulton popped out of the door rolling his suitcase behind him.............he looks over at us and says "Wait a minute guys.......I'll be right there." He promptly loads up his suitcase into the SUV parked right next to us and walks behind the barricade and stands among us. Murf had a setlist and Kasim signed it for him.

Kasim used Murf's back for support to write on. He spent a fairly decent amount of time conversing with us. This was a huge thrill for Murf and he was almost speechless. All of those years being a Utopia fan and there he was with Kasim himself!

Kasim has to be the nicest dude on the planet......seriously. I said to Kasim: "You're the best!". Kasim says "No, YOU are the best!". We went back and forth like that several times as he signed autographs for us. That he takes the time to sign autographs is one thing......but to spend the amount of time he does.....chatting with us.......posing for pictures........even though he must be tired.........what can I say? Thanks Kasim!

Alrighty then.......Let me just say that my sons were with me when I attended the Todd "Liars" concert in Lancaster , PA. After that show, we waited by the tour bus and Kasim stood with us. He was so friendly and accommodating and treated us like we were his family. Unfortunately the pictures we took were lost when our harddrive crashed. There was a rather large crowd there that night and Kasim spent most of his time chatting with us. He put his arm around my son Boo Boo without hesitation and posed for pictures. My son was thrilled. Heck.....I was thrilled! Todd Rundgren was busy signing autographs and was behind a barricade. My other son, Dash Riprock, went over to him and asked him to sign an autograph for "my Dad......he named me after you". Rundgren looked up at him and said "I do not usually personalize autographs but since it is for your Dad I will.......what is his name?" My son thanks him and walks over to me with the autograph...."Here Dad." The crowd was too big for me to get to meet Todd but my son had managed to get the prize. I remember that when they called a halt to the meet and greet because they had to leave.......I did manage to walk around the other side of the group where I encountered Todd about to get into a SUV in front of the bus. I said "Thanks Todd!" to which he replied "It's my pleasure!". That was as personal as it had gotten for this fan..............until now.

Todd's wife Michele poked her head outside the door and announced "He'll be right out!" and a minute later there he was...............he comes out of the door and walks right over to us. Now THIS is what I am talking about! It was almost as if we had an exclusive........Todd spent alot of time talking with me, Murf, Dean Martin, and my son Dash Riprock. He signed autographs for us and posed for pictures. I pointed out the police car with the anti-theft bar to Todd.....and he chuckled. It is hard to think of what you would like to say to your become dumbfounded. I said "Thanks Todd for making the soundtrack to my life!". He smiled and said "My pleasure". I cannot remember everything that was said at that moment but he was there for about fifteen minutes with us. I remember saying to him "Hey......we have the same kind of thumbs"......Todd held out both hands and said "Look at these fingers.........I have chubby fingers" and something about how hard it is playing the guitar with them. I think I said something like "but you do it so well". He laughed. Joked around with us. It was at this moment that my son's camera battery died and I could not get anymore pictures. All we had left was the cell phone.

Dean Martin told Todd that we played music too. Todd responded to that with "You guys are in a band?......Cool."

My son stood back and took the picture of us all together. Imagine that!..........Todd Rundgren and the Uncle Murray Band!

Finally........I got to meet Todd hero........rock and roll legend.

Have I mentioned how lucky and blessed that I am?

Stay up: More photos of the concert!


  1. Daddy, Isn't it great to meet your hero? Now you know how it felt for me to meet Donnie Wahlberg and the rest of the New Kids. Now is the reason why I wasn't asked to come along was because I fell asleep during the last concert?

    Daughter #1

  2. Okay....I have to explain a couple of things here. Daughter #1 was in attendence for the Todd Rundgren performance at the Recher Theater in Towson, MD several years ago. All of my kids were there and she happened to fall asleep during the concert. I am sure that Todd had to have seen her since we were in the second row and in plain view. So here is the deal. My kids always heard Todd Rundgren music throughout their entire lives. In particular, there were some songs that would get played to calm them down to get to sleep, especially when they were little. Naturally, my daughters conked out at the show. Yes, it is great to have met my hero, however there is no comparison in your case. First, I never screamed during a Rundgren concert and I don't think anyone at a Rundgren concert ever pissed their pants. I apologize for not asking you if you wanted to come to the show......I didn't know that you needed a snooze......hehehe. Oh time.......maybe you can come along.........but who is gonna watch the kids?

  3. Hey folks........for anyone who may have noticed the photo of the autographed ticket stubs..........maybe you also noticed that Todd signed one and put "2006" on it. I didn't realize it at the time but noticed it after I got home from the show. Hmmmmmm.

    Also, I hardly mentioned Todd's wife Michele. She came up next to Todd while he was speaking with us and I asked her how her leg was doing because I saw her in Austin in a cast.......she said "much better" and I said "Of course I want YOUR autograph too". She is just way too nice :)