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A Report On The Big TaxDay BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Music Event In Hollywood!!

I am – Hercules!! I believe AICN’s soundtrack maven “ScoreKeeper” attended the first of these a few days ago. Here’s “Hagrid” with a look at the second and final event held Tuesday in Hollywood:
Hello, everyone. My name is Hagrid, and I'm a Galactica-holic. Many cool things happen in Los Angeles. Friends get famous. Alcohol replaces Vitamin C. Homeless people beat street signs and perform monologues to invisible critics. You get to see Grindhouse at the Graumann's Chinese with Eli Roth, Edgar Wright, Rosario Dawson, and Quentin Tarantino two rows away – "back, and to the left." You get to see John Williams at the Hollywood Bowl. You get to talk about the Yankees with the very cool Paul Rudd. You get to meet William Shatner on your birthday at a book reading. You get to say "hey I saw a double feature prints at the New Beverly of The Omega Man and Silent Running! Labyrinth and Legend! The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! And you get to say that with pride. Last night – Apr. 15, 2008 – while everyone else was busy trying to avoid their taxes – another cool thing happened. The Roxy. Music of Battlestar Galactica. Performed live by the composer – Bear McCreary. All the talk-backers chime in now and say "Who the frak is that?" And I'll chime back in: "Shame on you." This gentleman is the next big thing for film scoring. Or, to use a sci-fi term – "he IS the Kwisatz Haderach" of television composers. And if you scoff at that, remember that Michael Giacchino got his start composing for video games The Lost World and Medal of Honor – and last year, he got nominated for an Oscar for Ratatouille. Again, in Los Angeles, many cool things happen. Oh yeah – he also apparently studied with Elmer Bernstein's protégé for nearly a decade. Suffice it to say… the music of Battlestar Galactica is tribal, emotional, multi-cultural, heavy on the percussion… and the best music available on any television show on the air. Go on. Try to mention some other choices that top it. I dare you. I'm waiting… So last night… the Roxy packed the place with BG fans for this second of two performances. BG played on the big video screen there. Two gentleman wore uniforms from the show. I was on my fifth whiskey and coke – plus a SoCo and lime shot. I was ready. At Sunday's show, the MC was James Callis. He plays Gaius Baltar on BG, and is perhaps the most unique characterization of a 'traitor' to humanity than any other. Why? Because he's not evil. He's not a traitor for his own personal gains. He's simply weak. If he simply commited suicide, thousands upon thousands of unnecessary deaths would've been avoided. But his weakness reinforces his need for self-preservation. A great traitor. And a random tangent for this article… Anyhow, he didn't show up on Tuesday. But Candice McClure ("Dee") did. After I recovered my jaw from the floor, she introduced Bear's brother Brendan McCreary, and his band. They performed a set of six songs – one was a rock 'n' roll song written for Galactica that was rejected. Kind of like "I've been to Geminon… been to Tauron… but nothing like Caprica…" The music was good… there was a kick ass violinist named Paul Cartwright who looked a bit like Kevin Meaney. Brendan McCreary looked a bit like a stocky Eli Roth. And the guy on the windpipes looked a lot like a younger Richard Lewis without the mullet. But overall – Brendan's band was pretty talented. But there are two people who joined the band for that performance, and for when Bear came out to do his music, that elevated the whole night for me. Anyone like Oingo Boingo? 'Cause Steve Bartek was on the guitar and John Vatos was on the drums. John had a Mohawk, and Steve had an Elvis shirt. (Bartek is also – more often than not – Danny Elfman's conductor of choice – some geeks might think that's officially awesome). Not a bad record for a band who supposedly made their first appearance on the Gong Show. And for the record – Steve Bartek looked like Tom Wilkinson and John Vatos looked like Zangieff from Street Fighter. Mohawk included. So Brendan's band took a break. They showed more BG clips. Candice McClure MC'eed - again. My jaw was retrieved – again. And then Bear came on with an 11 piece band. David – a much younger and less weathered version of David Patrick Kelly ("Remember Sully when I said I'd kill you last?" "That's right Matrix, you did!" "I lied." "Whooaahhhhhh—." Dropped to rocks. Dead. Sully = David Patrick Kelly) Three string instruments – two violins and a viola – I think. Large drum kit. A guy on windpipes – one of them something called a bansuri. Different sets of guitars. And Taiko drums. Motherfrakkin' taiko drums. Vocals by the lovely, ethereal Raya Yarbrough. All live. All awesome. It's difficult trying to explain why music is awesome in an article… you can only listen to it and know. So picture this: Imagine Tom Wilkinson insanely riffing on an electric guitar, Kevin Meaney, sweating and bowing his violin like he's possessed, a bulky Eli Roth energetically moving from guitar and drums in support of his awesome brother David Patrick Kelly, conducting from a keyboard up front, while Richard Lewis plays these old school wood flutes and strange windpipes. In the back, Zangieff is wailing on drums, and a guy who looks like a much cooler version of an old roommate of mine named Rod Fink beating the pulp out of these Taiko drums. Imagine percussion heaven. And then, imagine not feeling the least bit embarrassed about headbanging to music from a TV show. That was the first set. Second intermission. Treated to a home video of Bear trying to convince the cast and crew of Battlestar that there's music in the show. ("There's no music – there is? Oh, you mean the drums? That's just sound effects…). Also… it was fun watching James Callis play up his comedic side in the video (someone get this guy Judd Apatow's number fast) and it was cool to see Eddie Olmos making fun of Bear's name by growling on camera. That's the beauty of a show that really works – when you can tell that everyone involved genuinely loves it. And Jamie Bamber, Michael Hogan, and Katee Deserves-An-Emmy-Now-More-Than-Ever Sackhoff all seem to genuinely respect and love each other as well. Second set. Same as the first. But much more hardcore. Again – picture the great jam bands… and then take out the lyrics. Steve Bartek was the obvious veteran performer – you could tell by how restrained his body movements were, and how unrestrained his fingers were on that electric guitar. You can also tell his respect for the position of conductor, as he frequently kept eye contact with Bear's movments. And don't forget Kevin Meaney – sweating up a storm – on that violin. I'm surprised steam didn't come out of the strings like it did for Susan Sarandon back in Eastwick. The final song of the night – Bear McCreary's Battlestar rendition of "All Along The Watchtower." And if you're wondering – how can a Dylan song be in a sci-fi show set in another galaxy – join the club. Even BG fans have no clue. But do yourselves a favor – track this version down and play it on your Ipod. VERY, very good rendition… Brendan sang the vocals for the official recording of 'Watchtower,' and enthusiastically sung them again here. I borrowed a friend's cell phone, called my brother in Baltimore, and let voicemail do its' trick. Sorry to tell you this, bro, but that's a poor substitution for hearing this song build in a live venue. The entire place was rocking out like it was a real honest-to-goodness concert. Headbanging, dude. I swear to God. Then they called it a night. And then the crowd chanted for an encore. How did they chant? It's a line from BG – and the crowd went "So Say We All! So Say We All! So Say We All! So Say We All!" A wonderful, uniting geek moment for all of us. And then they all came out for one last Taiko-heavy encore… Raya Yarbrough came out to add vocals… Steve Bartek and John Vatos went insane… and then it was over. Like in Say Anything… "Lord have mercy. Three hours of commercial free rock 'r' roll…" One of a kind experience… unless you count Sunday's show. Well, two of a kind – oh hell, you get the point. At that point, my roommate and I needed the McDonald's dollar menu in a serious way… so we didn't stick around for the CD signing… but the McCrearys and their supporting bandmates… they could not have been more happy and more excited to be there. Truly a great night. Thanks to the Roxy for putting on a very unique show. And thanks to my brother in Baltimore for getting me into Battlestar Galactica… …which in turn got my roommate into it... …and then my other friends… …and so on… and so on… and so on… …Hagrid - out.


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