Berlin at Rhino Records!


Berlin performed a six-song set Saturday at Claremont’s Rhino Records, a thrill for some 100 people who packed into the LP aisles to hear the band play on the small stage. They heard the band’s ’80s songs “Masquerade,” “Metro” and “Sex (I’m a …),” the new tracks “Mom” and “Animal,” and the obligatory “Take My Breath Away.”

(Here’s a short Daily Bulletin story with a couple of nice photos by James Carbone, who was standing just behind me.)

“Can I tell you how great it is to be in a record store?” singer Terri Nunn said at one point. Her parents owned a small record shop in Reseda in the early 1970s “until Tower and Wherehouse killed us off.” She added: “It was such a hub of community and neighbors and fellow music lovers.”

Nunn is a passionate performer, as people who’ve seen the band at the L.A. County Fair and other venues can attest, and that even translates to an intimate free show at a record store. She moved sinuously, and after “Mom,” a touching song about her mother, Nunn actually cried. It was a sweet moment. A fan handed her a tissue. Then she went directly into “Animal,” whose first line is “Looking up my little dress…”

For the finale, Nunn left the stage and waded into the aisle, where we parted like the Red Sea as she sang with her handheld microphone. One of those moments you won’t forget. (I do wonder what Nunn thinks of gazing at people aiming a phone at her rather than actually looking at her. I’m guilty too, but then, I’m a journalist.)

Afterward, she and the band lined up at the counter to sign people’s CDs, mostly the new one. I introduced myself as the fellow who interviewed her by phone the previous week for a column, and while I’m not sure she remembered, they probably all blend together at some point. It was cool to meet her, and she posed for photos with everyone, including me.

Here are two one-minute videos I shot: “Metro” and “Take My Breath Away.”

Photo below by Catherine Caporale and at bottom by Allison Evans.



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Column: Berlin’s Terri Nunn finds there’s life after the ’80s

Wednesday’s column is a rarity for me: a celebrity interview. I chatted by phone with Terri Nunn, frontwoman of the band Berlin, with some trepidation. Would this work as a column, or would it end up being merely a promotional piece? (She’s performing and signing CDs Saturday in Claremont.) I think it works as a column — if not, it’s not Nunn’s fault, as she was engaging, relaxed and funny — but you can be the judge.

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Claudia Lennear and ’20 Feet From Stardom’

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From left, Julia, Oren and Maxine Waters and Claudia Lennear.

Tuesday night there was a free screening at Pomona College of the documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” that was attended by four of the featured performers from the movie: Claudia Lennear of Pomona and Julia, Maxine and Oren Waters.

Lennear, who was spotlighted in my column in March, sang background vocals on Ike and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” and Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With,” among many others, while the Waters clan sang on the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” Donna Summers’ “Bad Girls,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the theme song for TV’s “Growing Pains” and the Disney movie “The Lion King.”

The room was packed for the movie and the Q&A afterward. The first guy’s question went something like this: “With the news this week about Donald Sterling” — and suddenly the four singers, all African-American, sat up straight, and the rest of us tensed for what promised to be a series of provocative, of-the-moment answers — “what are your thoughts about Phil Spector?”

Uh, what? The questions didn’t improve, with one man asking which song of theirs they would send into space “on a spaceship” for aliens, another asking which single performer from their past they would have worked with if they could only have worked with one. Another directed a rambling statement/question at their accompanist, guitarist Caleb Quaye, who wasn’t in the movie.

(Making things worse, Quaye talked at great length, as if he were 19 feet from stardom. You’ll be pleased to learn that he was saved in 1982 and that he hopes Elton John one day will be too.)

Thankfully no one asked what they’d bring to a desert island, which historical figure they’d want to eat dinner with or what type of tree they’d choose to be. One final question was taken, and answered at length, and then we were told, “just one or two more,” to teeth-gnashing and eye-rolls from people near me (and also from me). Well, the event was free, so no use demanding your money back.

At the end, we got two live performances: the Waters family singing Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes’ “Up Where We Belong,” with Lennear’s aid, and then Lennear singing the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” with the Waters’ backing and Quaye providing subtle accompaniment on both. Very nice. Here’s a 45-second video clip¬†of Lennear’s song. You won’t see much — I was in the back row, 50 feet from stardom — but the sound is fine.

Now if you haven’t watched the documentary, go and do so.

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Column: Record Store Day is music to fans’ ears

Saturday is Record Store Day, with local shops offering special releases (most of them on vinyl), giveaways and a festive atmosphere. Friday’s column has more details as well as relevant links to the RSD website and release list. I also plug my Hitchcock series at Ontario’s library and present a few nuggets from Monday’s Upland council meeting that I cut from Wednesday’s column.

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Column: Suspense only beginning as Hitchcock titles announced

Two Hitchcock-related columns in one week? Only the top item this time, not a whole column like Wednesday. I’m programming the movies at the Ontario library in April and my Sunday column gives the titles and dates.

After that come a couple of literary items and three Pomona items (two of which have sat around for a few weeks, waiting for their moment in the spotlight). And I end by mentioning that I’ve been on vacation. But you blog readers knew that all week, right?

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Column: ’20 Feet From Stardom,’ but getting closer

Claudia Lennear was one of the backup singers featured in the documentary “20 Feet From Stardom,” which won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary earlier in March. Back in the day, she sang with the greats. These days she lives in Pomona and teaches at Mt. San Antonio College. We sat down for an interview about her life and career for Friday’s extra-length, Page One (!) column.

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