Missing to Links – The Indestructible Rockers

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The Indestructible Rockers

Rick Langenberg

The resounding strength associated with certain rock n’ roll legends and magical music eras was reinforced last Friday with another strong performance by the old Jefferson Starship gang at Stargazers Theatre.

Led by Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship co-founder and granddaddy of the Summer of Love, Paul Kantner, who suffered a near fatal heart attack only two months ago and showed definite signs of weariness at times on stage, the old rockers definitely gave an A-plus effort. So whatever cynical posts you read on Facebook about these guys, please disregard. These folks are definitely worth watching live and most likely they will be making another surprise landing in our area, as they definitely enjoy playing in the Pikes Peak region. Maybe we can get them up to the Palladium amphitheater in Cripple Creek.

“He just won’t die,” quipped lead female singer Cathy Richardson, when referring to the exploits of Kantner, who refused to take too many breathers at last week’s Stargazers performance, in touting the band founder’s indestructability. (After all, this is a guy who nearly got stomped to death by the Hells Angels during a performance at the Altamont Festival, lived with legendary singer and Summer of Love matriarch Grace Slick for a number of years, came close to dying from a horrific motorcycle accident and had many, many health setbacks). And if you thought Kantner was aging and fragile at the young age of 74, you just had to observe the amazing antics of fellow J. Starship mate and original band co-pilot David Freiberg, who soon turns 77 and is displaying no signs of a letup.

Even with all the aging jokes, the good men and fine lady from the Jefferson Starship definitely rocked last week and gave a great tribute to the era of Jefferson Airplane, which is celebrating their 50th-year anniversary this year. And to celebrate the occasion, the small assortment of hippies still left in the Pikes Peak region were out there in force with their full 60s attire, and collections of old Airplane classic albums.

Highlights of the latest Jefferson Starship performance included a riveting revival of the post-apocalyptic, sci-fi epic “Wooden Ships” that blew the Crosby, Stills and Nash version completely out of the water (Still can’t understand why the CSN version of Wooden Ships gets more air time on the radio as the Airplane version is 20 times better); along with many of the Airplane classics, such as “White Rabbit,” “Volunteers,” “Somebody to Love” and “Have You Seen the Saucers.” I personally liked the rebirth of some of the former Kantner and Slick solo songs,“Have You Seen the Stars Tonight” and “Sketches of China.”

Some surprises included a few more Jefferson Starship songs from the early 1980s, which brought back memories of Mickey Thomas’ previous Starship shows at the Palladium, and an incredible “Embryonic Journey” solo by new guitarist Jude Gold.

All in all, the show definitely offered a good combination of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship classics from this magical time.

On the downside, the Jefferson Starship team won’t win any awards for their technical, multi-media wizardry, and seem to always struggle with their sound system at the outset of their shows. And not surprisingly, Kantner does struggle with his voice at times.

And with the latest Jefferson Starship tour, there is a definite sadness with the prospects of possibly losing a psychedelic folk rock hero. Quite frankly, I don’t know if we will see Paul Kantner for too much longer, which is unfortunate. I hope I am wrong.

I became a big Kantner fan during an acoustic show Paul and Jack Casady (former member of the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna) did, shortly after Bill Clinton was first elected president, with a band Paul dubbed “Wooden Ships” as part of his reformation of the Jefferson Starship. He played in a club in the Springs that no longer exists and had the entire audience leave their tables and move up in front of the stage. The acoustic show featured a quaint, remarkable musical exchange that I will never forget.

It’s the kind of personal atmosphere I think Kantner missed during his time with the more commercial leg of the Jefferson Starship. And even now, Paul enjoys conversing with the audience and taking a few good-hearted political swipes at our GOP hub, even quipping last Friday evening that he wanted to find some good Republicans in the Stargazers parking lot. He didn’t succeed.

Despite their endorsement of the late 1960s liberalism and anti-war movement, these guys love to play in our conservative mecca, and even did a free show once in Old Colorado City. Figure that out. Can you see John Suthers, our new royal king of Colorado Springs, dancing to “Volunteers of America” (the Airplane’s pro-revolution epic). That’s a scary image.

But despite all the skepticism about aging rockers, these guys are worth watching, especially inside the intimate atmosphere of the Stargazers. That setting, the band’s colorful history and the extremely talented and personable Richardson, who brings a bold Broadway style to their shows, offers a winning combination.

Maybe with a little luck, the next Jefferson Starship Galactic Landing will occur at the Bronco Billy’s Palladium

What a U.S. Open golf tourney.

Even though Jordon Spieth won by default, it was one of the few times the Father’s Day golf classic had people on the edge of their seats. The twittersville arena will be alive and well this week with posts about the ugly course in the great Northwest and the bizarre setup. But I say, suck it up. Golf is in dire straits now and needs a more entertaining format, even if they design courses that look they were planned after consuming many pints in an Irish bar.

My only complaint was that Fox needs to give Greg Norman the boot from the broadcasting booth. He was super, super boring. I was very disappointed with the Great White Shark, as someone off the street could have provided more entertaining commentary. Instead, they should have Greg serve some of his classic wines to the golfers. It looks like they may need some vintage help in the way they missed 3-foot putts. Now, I don’t feel so bad about three-putting at Shining Mountain.

And with Spieth’s victory, the game now has a new super star from Texas, who is described by one journalist as having the focus of Ben Hogan, the nice mannerism of Byron Nelson and the putting stroke of Ben Crenshaw. It’s amazing that the top player now is someone who really doesn’t razzle the golf world with huge drives and an obsession with power. And better yet, he uses his natural swing, something that has eluded Tiger Woods, who is now going on his 15th or so swing coach.