Jon Anderson and Paul Green Rock Academy perform Close to the Edge – Live

A little background is in order:

Wikipedia: “Paul Green is an American record producer, film producer, director, screenwriter, singer-songwriter, music teacher, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who founded School of Rock (formerly known as The Paul Green School of Rock Music), a performance-based music program for kids.

First established in Philadelphia in 1998 by Green, schools have opened in 18 US states and internationally in Mexico. In 2005, the company was the subject of a documentary film titled Rock School.”

In early 2010, Green left the Paul Green School of Rock Music, which is now known as The School of Rock. (The Jack Black movie started production after this school was established. They claimed never to have heard of his school. Green considered a lawsuit but decided against it, reasoning that the School benefited from the film saying “I considered suing, but what are you going to do? It’s better, in a karmic sense, to just reap the rewards.”)

Green had been bought out and once his non-compete expired, opened Paul Green Rock Academy in Woodstock, NY. There are “occasional workshops featuring accomplished musicians, and the artists will include discussions about their past experiences, songwriting, live performance, and fame in general. To be admitted, students generally must be between the ages of 7 and 18. No musical training or experience is necessary to attend the school.”

Paul Green’s All-Stars are the best students from various nationwide schools. Apparently, they play all over and have turned with everybody from Slash to Les Paul to LeAnn Rimes to Ann Wilson.

As Jon Anderson told the story onstage, he was touring in Philly about 20 years ago and got a tape from Green of one of his ensembles doing ‘Heart of the Sunrise.” Somewhat gobsmacked, he got involved with the group and has been engaged on and off since then.

They are currently doing a brief (mostly) East Coast tour. This came on my radar and I said, Hell I gotta go see that. For me it was literally just to hear “Close to the Edge” live, the rest was just a bonus. Also, Anderson signed my guitar at my own geezer wannabe rock camp just pre-COVID. (Steve  Morse signed it too and both signatures are now completely gone. Four-part series starts here.)

So how was it? Well, the level of musicianship was quite high as you’ll hear. Initially, I thought there were about 10 students. But when they came out at the end it was clear there were at least 20 who were being shunted on and off stage periodically.

What amazed me was not only how good they were but how versatile. There were typically about 4 people singing harmony with Anderson. That gal playing bass that you’ll see on “Heart of the Sunrise” had been a backup singer on the prior song. Check this out.

There were times that it felt very School of Rock. I guess to make the kids happy they did an Eminem tune (!) and even one by Lenny Kravitz. Those tunes just seemed weirdly out of place. But I will say it was nice to see this young (average age maybe 23 or so) bunch of kids get into classic prog-rock so much. (Wonder what they made of Anderson’s typically cryptic lyrics.)

Unfortunately, Green took it upon himself a couple of times to run out on stage and pull a kid out front to play a solo or move them around. I’d appreciate that if this was a high school production or even billed as one but I paid good bucks to see this. Sure, I expected a student band but don’t treat them like 5-year-olds. I had a video that he was on and I deleted it as it was just too cringeworthy.

Gripe – I got to the theater about a half-hour before starting time and decided to wander around the town a little bit. It turns out that the students had been playing an opening set THAT WENT UNADVERTISED. Anyway, I caught the end of this blues (?) number by the band. (Yes, the gals were all hot AND could play and sing.)

Lastly, “Close To The Edge (Side 1).” Listen, if you’re expecting Yes on this, go listen to the record. You’re certainly not gonna hear that level of precision or Rick Wakeman’s epic organ solo (played on the pipe organ at St Giles-without-Cripplegate church in Barbican, London. ) But unlike Paul McCartney who still sounds good but rough, Anderson has maintained his pipes and sounds great.

But for what it is, I think they did a pretty damn fine job with a tough piece of material. When we were doing tunes with Jon out in LA, pretty much every band did “Owner” because everything else was just too fucking complex to learn in two days.

They of course ended with “Roundabout,” which – for good or bad – included two saxes and a clarinet! Their moms would be proud. Here it is from a show last year.

 

Set 1

Sun Is Calling…

Owner of a Lonely Heart

I’ve Seen All Good People

Kashmir (Zep cover)

Don’t Kill the Whale

Leave It

Lose Yourself (Eminem cover)

State of Independence (Anderson and Vangelis cover)

Screw (Anderson song where he drops positivity and tells politicians to go screw themselves.)

Fly Away (Lenny Kravitz cover)

Long Distance Runaround

The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)

Mood for a Day (two of the female students in unison)

America (Simon & Garfunkel cover)

Heart of the Sunrise

Set 2

Close to the Edge

And You and I

Siberian Khat

Starship Trooper

Roundabout

 

26 thoughts on “Jon Anderson and Paul Green Rock Academy perform Close to the Edge – Live

  1. Man, Jim, I love this! It’s funny, just yesterday, I saw something on Facebook about Jon Anderson performing with students, recalled your recent veiled comment and knew that’s the show you were going to see.

    I love young people getting so engaged in playing music, especially when it’s music that’s not exactly in today’s charts. So much better than playing video games – sorry, I just had to throw that out!

    What a thrill ride it must have been for these students to share the stage with one of the all-time greats, Jon Anderson, who btw still has a great voice! Also, kudos to him for making this show happen!

    Like

    1. I saw your comments on YouTube as well. That’s funny that you picked up on it. Too bad you’re tapped out as they are playing in Montclair, NJ. And you are right about Andersons voice. He’s kept it better than McCartney. Meant to mention that. Think I’ll go back and add that comment. Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, when I noticed you included your own clips, I thought I add my 2 cents on YouTube as well. It really looked like a great show.

        The Wellmont Theater in Montclair is a nice venue. I saw Buddy Guy there back in April.

        But, yeah, after four shows in June, I’m going to dial it back. These ticket prices really add up!

        I’m thinking about seeing Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Beacon in October. I’m really impressed with their latest 4-album project “I’m the Moon.” And I’ve never seen them!

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        1. I’m 100% with you on Tedeschi Trucks. They play here regularly (Susan is from Boston) and I’ve been really close to going a couple of times. Not this year though for the reasons discussed. Everybody and his cousin is touring now that Covid is waning. So tired of shelling out the big bucks!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Frankly, I haven’t even checked how much the tickets are. Sticker shock would likely change my mind. In case you haven’t, check out “I’m the Moon.” The first two of the four albums are already out. Really good!

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        3. I kind of wonder how many albums bands like Tedeschi Trucks sell anyway, at least nowadays. Their music isn’t exactly mainstream.

          I guess the only way they can make some money is via touring. And even that may be a tough proposition. As a 12-piece band, you have an army of musicians sharing the pay!

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        4. I’d be curious what you think about it. I was pretty impressed – I guess in part because I expected a straight blues rock album. I didn’t realize how soulful these guys are!

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        5. Listening to it now. You’re right – quite good and soulful. They long since went past straight blues or anything truly resembling the ABB. Tedeschi brings a Bonnie Raitt flavor. I don’t know why I keep thinking of the economics. I can see wanting a 12-piece band. But how do you support that?

          Liked by 1 person

  2. What would I say? This is awesome!! Yes music is still alive and doing fine. Loved Yes then, love it now. And these guys are keeping it thriving. Thanks for posting this!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Awesome” . Like the above comment said. Pretty impressive. Talk about tackling a big chunk of music. I guess if you’re going to learn , why not from guys like Squire, Bruford etc . Anderson must be a cool guy. I seen him and his mates years ago and they were some of the best live shows of music I ever attended. When I was watching the videos I couldnt help thinking about an Anderson tune ‘Surrender” and thinking it would have been cool if he sang it with the students.

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    1. Definitely impressive. As I mentioned in the piece, when I went to LA I thought, How the hell are we gonna learn ANY Yes tunes in two days? We came in kinda Deep Purple heavy, so a lotta riffs and soloing. But prog is all weird time signatures, precision time shifts, specific solos – it’s almost like classical music in that sense. So all but one ensemble did “Owner,” and one managed to pull off “Roundabout.” And these kids pretty much mastered half of Yes’ catalog.

      I saw Yes exactly once and it was 50 (!) years ago. They barely HAD a catalog.

      Like I mentioned in the piece, I went primarily to hear ‘Close’ and was surprised that that was just one of many tunes. We gave them a standing O for that one.

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      1. You seen them a couple years before I jumped on board. Great band. I know Bruford is a jazz disciple and Squire had the chops and some showmanship. Howe was not bad either. Kids biting off some big chunks. Think it’s cool that they chose ‘Yes’ music.
        Other note. We were talking Di Meola a while back. At the time I mentioned I was listening to Return To Forever. The album No Mystery stood out for some hard rock chops by Al. The last 3 cuts on side one gives a good taste. Crank it up in the old car. Little funky on the side. Like Yes, the musicianship is off the chart.

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        1. Yeah, I’m old. That has good sides and bad sides. Unclear to me if they chose Yes music or if Paul Green did. I bet they never even heard of Yes prior to him

          As to Di Meola, I was actually listening to Romantic Warrior recently. I don’t recall ‘No Mystery’ but I’ll definitely check it out.

          Odd story – the rock camp that I went to has a Facebook page for ‘alumni.’ They announced a Beatles/Stones camp in the fall. And Di Meola was the guitarist. As great a guitarist as he is, I’ve never heard him play a lick of rock and roll. I mentioned that on the site and so did some others. They must have seen that and immediately posted some jazzy Beatles album Al did.

          I guess that didn’t work because the next thing you know he was replaced by Ace Frehley from Kiss. Kinda embarrassing for Al I think. “Hey Al, sorry to say no one’s signing up this camp. They’re all headbangers and never heard of you.”

          Personally I would go to a jazz class with Al in a heartbeat. But he is just not a rocker. Getting that Leslie West rock and roll crunch is completely different from that smooth jazzy sound.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Check out the cuts I told you about. Al gets the jams out. Stanley Clarke and Lenny White kick ass big time. After the first few RTF the music went in a different direction (still great music). Like I said before the early stuff was in the Mahavishnu vein.
          While we’re talking everything music (because that’s what you do) I’m Spotifing with ‘Blind Pig Records 40th Anniversary Collection’. Getting a heavy blues fix with lots of great variety.

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  4. To tie two recent posts together, did you know that Jack Black is married to Charlie Haden’s daughter?

    Squire was a monster playing deep bass and singing high harmonies at the same time.

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    1. Yes I did know that and you would too if you had read the piece as I mentioned it there.

      I know about Squire but that has nothing to do with this performance at all. What is your impression of it?

      Like

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