Monday, July 22, 2013

Jill Krementz rocks and rolls with The Monkees

Jessica Kent and Michael Nesmith.
Midsummer's Night With Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork
July 14-August 19, 2013

The Monkees have recently embarked on a 24-city tour which began in Port Chester, New York and which will end on August 18th in Portland, Oregon.

On Friday night they appeared to a sold-out crowd at the Westbury Music Theatre in Long Island.

The group originated on TV in the '60s with Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and the late Davy Jones who died of a heart attack last year. The rockers have enjoyed a resurgence and widespread critical acceptance by all ages in the last year.

My niece Jessica Kent runs The Gihon Foundation, a non-profit for the performing arts established in the early '70s by Nesmith's mother Bette Nesmith Graham. Mrs. Graham, a former secretary, invented the correction fluid Liquid Paper. It was through Jessica that I recently met Nez, as he's known, and have become an unabashed Monkees fan.

Nesmith, when he's not on the road, lives with Dale, his German Shorthaired Pointer, in Monterey, California.
Michael Nesmith en route to July 19th concert at the Westbury Music Theatre in Westbury, Long Island.
Arriving at the Theatre at Westbury.
As soon as we arrived Michael called the security people so we could gain entrance. We had pulled up alongside one of Monkees' tour buses.
The group travels in four 50-foot buses and a semi. The one for the crew sleeps twelve. The principals each have a bus with a stateroom in the rear as well as 4-6 bunks.
Rita Lamison, who drove us from Sagaponack to Westbury, and Tori Hill, Michael's handler on this tour. As we arrived the dressing rooms were being assigned. That's Michael's 42-year-old daughter Jessica, the assistant tour manager, affixing his name outside the door.
Andrew Sandoval is the Tour Producer of The Monkees. Michael is signing 50 posters, which will also be signed by Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork.
Poster inscribed for me.
In the dressing room: bottled water, the new blue-ray edition of "Repo Man," a cult classic which Michael executive produced in 1982-83, and an assortment of teas with lemon and/or honey.
Snacks.
As soon as everyone had arrived there was a sound check on stage.
And also a video check. The vintage videos are an important component of The Monkees show.

The show opens with a three-minute sequence of clips from movies and TV programs that have featured The Monkees: "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad," "After Hours," and "The Letterman Show."
From left to right: Rich Dart, Wayne Avers, and Peter Tork.
Jen Dawson is the wife of keyboardist David Alexander. Donna is Micky Dolenz's wife.
Aaron Holmes, Merchandise Manager.
T-shirt with tour schedule.
A look inside the bus. This is Michael's stateroom.
Posted at inside entrance of bus. My favorite amenity: a banana holder. What could be more apropos for The Monkees?
Additional luxuries stowed away to be enjoyed post-performance.
Tori Hill, who has a bunk on this bus, upper right behind the driver. Michael's daughter is upper left. Lower bunks are for his son Christian, a member of the band, and Dan Mapp, the tour manager. Tori Hill is steaming the white jacket that Michael will wear for the evening performance.
Fans outside the bus hoping to get autographs on their vintage albums, posters, and T-shirts.
A buffet dinner set out in the hall for performers and crew. David Alexander and Jen Dawson hit the chow line.
Dinner with Michael Nesmith, Christian Nesmith (Michael's eldest son), Tori Hill, and Andy Somers, Michael's booking agent, after the sound check.
Christian with his vapor. Vaporizing is the alternative to smoking cigarettes for a lot of people. With only 18 milligrams of nicotine and no tar, saltpeter, or tobacco treated with chemicals, it is the addictive smoker's route to redemption.
Andy Somers checks out Christian's vapor. Somers is also the booking agent for Social Distinction, Ray Davies, Penny Wise, and Sick Puppies.

He is currently booking a solo tour for Michael commencing in October of this year.

"I was watching his TV show when I was in 6th grade. This is the third Monkees Tour I've booked."
"I started off writing plays and songs. The songs became very lucrative so I stuck with that. I was able to make a living that way. But I still write plays, novels, movies, and poems."
Relaxing before heading into the bus to get dressed for the performance.
Getting in a quick snooze.
Going over the details for the evening. Michael with Andrew Sandoval and Dan Mapp, tour manager.
"It's 45 to show and time to get ready," says Mr. Mapp. Michael's wardrobe closet.
Getting dressed. The silver shoes are Jimmy Choos.
Close-up of the Jimmy Choos.
Ready to go. Well ... sort of.
Clockwise from top left: Michael leaving the bus; Getting miked; Tori is wearing Michael's watch and keeping close tabs on the time.
Time to relax in the dressing room, alone, and with his daughter Jessica.
Christian, Michael, and Jessica.
Twinkle toes.

"I was at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco on the last Monkees Tour and these shoes just followed me home."
"Micky" Dolenz, Jr. is an American actor, musician, television director, radio personality, and theater director, best known as the drummer and lead vocalist of The Monkees.
Time to head backstage.
A group photo: Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork.
The show begins!
Michael, Peter, and Micky.
The set list included "I'm a Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville," and "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone."
Micky on percussion.
Michael singing under a video projection of Peter as a young flirt.
The crowd is loving it.
Sequence of three Michael Nesmith "Now and Thens."
Micky with the tambourine, Michael on his twelve-string, and Peter strumming his guitar.
Micky on drums and Michael on keyboard.

"Once upon a time four guys were put together for a TV show and we finally worked it out so we could be the musicians on our own record."
Aviva Maloney (sax, flute, keyboard, and backing vocals) and John Billings (bass).
A random volunteer is picked from the audience — in this case a young girl named Tiffany — to join The Monkees for a song.
A big hug for Tiffany after her performance.
One of the closers of the show, "Daydream Believer," was their biggest hit in 1967. The single sold millions of copies and the album went on to platinum. Davy Jones sang it.
10 PM: the two-hour show is over. Michael, Micky, and Peter take a bow.
Of course they sang an encore: "I'm a Believer."
Final curtain call: John Billings, Rich Dart, Aviva Maloney, Michael Nesmith, Wayne Avers, Micky Dolenz, Christian Nesmith, Peter Tork, Coco Dolenz (Micky's sister), and David Alexander.
A backstage visit from two members of The Monkees Convention Group: Jodi Ritzin and Phyllis Paganucci.
Liza Bigger, my daughter Lily's best friend, also came backstage. Liza was Lily's Maid of honor when she married Brian Michalski this past September. Lily and Brian are expecting a baby boy at the end of January. Drummer Rick Dart is 42 years old and has been with the band for two years. "I was involved on many of the Davy Jones tours."
Back to the bus for a glass of wine. You can see how hot Michael is by looking at his drenched T-shirt. A very happy tour manager.
An exhausted Monkee at the end of a great evening. 22 cities to go!

And then it's the country-wide solo tour starting in Phoenix and ending in Nashville.

"There are a lot of important venues that I'd like to add to my resumé."
Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved. Contact Jill Krementz here.