Professor Dolby Gets Some Summer Vacation

Dolby will present a one-man show this Summer in The States

It’s funny how threads start. Last week it transpired that the long mooted Ron Kane memorial; get-together by his friends is finally set to come off this summer. If you’ve not seen the posts, I was set to visit my friend Ron before his death last November for one last time, but the reaper acted a day before my flight. Ron had specified no funeral so I cancelled my flight and had a lot of airline credit to use this year. Ron’s West Coast buddies had talked about a meeting of his friends to indulge in Ron pastimes like a lot of record shopping and hopefully to share their stories of the guy. I only saw Ron on four occasions in 32 years of friendship [and that only in the last decade] since we lived 3000+ miles apart, so I was interested in finding out more about this offbeat guy who set me up with hundreds of fine records, CDs, and videos like some sort of  benevolent fairy godfather of music.

Then, last week, Ron’s pal Mark announced that near what would have been Ron’s 60th birthday, Ron-Kon II* would be happening in L.A. from the 27th-29th of July of this year. So I booked my flight, which used up all but $32 of the original flight credit.  Obviously, I started to look around at what concert action I might avail me and my pals chasinvictoria and Mr. Ware [commenters here as well as nearly lifelong friends], who would also be attending to event. When what to my won’dring eyes should appear but the 800 lb gorilla of “80s Nostalgia” shows! Usually, I’m pretty resistant to this sort of thing. Usually they feature some bogus [but popular] bands of the period like Tom Bailey, Culture Club or the like. Stuff I’d taped and erased long ago, watering down the vibe.

Blondie anchor an impressive “80s Night” with Dolby, Ant, Berlin, and Almond

80s Weekend #6 – July 27, 2018 @ Microsoft Theater | L.A.

  • Blondie
  • Adam Ant
  • Thomas Dolby
  • Marc Almond
  • Berlin

I have several albums by each of these acts. Tickets are going for a wide variety of prices: $67-$505 and can be found here. Now I’ve seen Berlin, Deborah Harry, Adam Ant, and Thomas Dolby. Harry and Dolby twice, even, but this was a pretty good lineup. At first blush, I seriously wanted to go, but then the endorphins ebbed, and the realization that Blondie would play a full set with micro-sets by the openers, possibly sharing a house band to speed the plow, made me think that the effort to attend a big show in L.A. [hell, parking alone was $25!] quickly made me re-think my ardor. This would also take me and my friends out of the “opening night festivities” for Ron-Kon II; ostensibly why we were going. So I put the idea back on the shelf of “what if…” Marc Almond was the one act I’d not seen before and would such a tease be worth it? I thought not even though this is Almond’s only US date on his current dance card. Still, that got me thinking about what Dolby had been up to, besides teaching at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Dolby’s infamous headmount camera

When I got to Dolby’s website, he had announced a small Summer Tour of The States, of which the Blondie show was but a footnote. Dolby plans to dust off his excellent one-man show and travel with a simple setup where he talks about each of the songs he’s performing and breaks down the origins and creation of each while his headmount camera shows exactly what he’s doing with array of tech to build up the construction of each song. Frankly, I’d much rather see Dolby in this environment than in being whisked on and off the huge Microsoft Theater stage for four of his hits; two of which I bet I would not want to hear in any case. Alas, my timing is such that I will still be missing this much more interesting tour! I will be arriving in L.A. on the 26th and Dolby also has a club date in the area… the night before.

Thomas Dolby | Summer Shows | USA 2018

July 25th | Largo at the Coronet | Hollywood, CA
July 27th | Microsoft Theater | Los Angeles, CA
July 30th | The Birchmere | Alexandria, VA
July 31st | Ram’s Head | Annapolis, MD
Aug 1st | Sellersville Theater | Sellersville, PA
Aug 3rd | The Cutting Room | New York, NY
Aug 4th | Natick TCAN Center for the Arts | Natick, MA
Aug 6th | Dante Theater | Atlantic City, NJ
Aug 8th | Center Stage | Baltimore, MD

As you can see, except for the big ticket L.A. show and its satellite, all of his dates are a quick jaunt from his Baltimore home base. A sensible tour and good for all of his fans in the US Northeast. Maybe next time for me.

In the meantime, on the night of July 28th, the schedule in Ron-Kon II is open for a possible concert. If anyone in the L.A. basin knows of a gig that would be “just the thing” for someone with my tastes to attend, leave a comment or drop me an email on the contact form.

– 30 –

* Ron-Kon was Ron’s infamous 50th birthday party a decade ago in Portland, Oregon, where friends from around the world congregated to eat, drink, view beautiful gardens, and of course, shop for records.

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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16 Responses to Professor Dolby Gets Some Summer Vacation

  1. Tim says:

    Thomas Dolby and Marc Almond certainly make me want to say well those two are worth it alone.
    Except, I don’t really care to hear him break down a song for half a dozen numbers, if I am going to pay that much money I want a concert, not a lecture. If he wants to give me a two hour show with a break in the middle that’s a half-hour lecture on the creative process I would be down with that.
    I suspect that Marc Almond is able to put on quite a show, the rest of the dance card doesn’t really move me so there’s more filler here than thriller. I do look forward to a PPM recap of it all.


  2. Jon Chaisson says:

    Hmm, pity he’s not up here in the Bay Area, I’d have loved to see that show.


  3. Tim: the Monk and I were privileged to attend a lecture by one Brian Eno in Asheville that involved no music from him (but was followed by a show by Terry Riley, one of Eno’s heroes) and yet it was quite well worth it, just for the QnA if nothing else (I basically got to say “I love you” in the form of a question!). I’d certainly be interested in Dolby’s show since he’s not covering his technique on every song. A concert would be great too, of course, but you tend to get one or the other with these sorts of events.

    As for the lineup at the Microsoft show, I’m still a fan of Blondie (and they’re still great, at least on occasion); it would be interesting to see what Adam’s up to show-wise these days; and of course Marc Almond, whom I haven’t seen live since long before that motorcycle crash that nearly killed him. Would almost have paid the base price just for him, but if the show is anything like the Monk described (full set from Blondie, four hits from each other other bands) then I’ll pass on this one. Berlin is officially “meh” in my book despite some good early songs, so don’t care about them either way. I wish “Perfesser” Dolby could get out west (specifically the Pacific Northwest) one of these days.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasincivtoria – I feel it’s cogent to point out at this juncture, that I just bought a copy of “The Curse Of Blondie,” the first “modern” Blondie album to pass my way at the right time/conditions/price… and I hated it. I also bought the long maligned “The Hunter” [I only owned that record from ’82-’85 and purged it for 33 years] at the same time and it came out comparatively smelling like a rose. Your mileage may vary. I had made the decision to finally investigate modern Blondie but now I’m not so certain.


      • Taffy says:

        While you’re well aware of my Blondie frothing fanboy status (and subsequent lack of impartiality), I will tell you that last year’s Pollinator album is hands down my favorite post-reunion work of the band. Perhaps you can sample it somewhere without committing to purchase?


        • postpunkmonk says:

          Taffy – I knew you’d weigh in. You know, when I saw “Pollinator” the week of release I came that close to buying it on instinct. Just because. What’s the general fan consensus on “The Curse Of Blondie?” I have to say I was generally non-plussed, until the last two tracks which pushed me into the red. The only vibrant track was the single, “Good Boys.”


          • Taffy says:

            Good Boys is a highlight (I’m partial to the Giorgio Moroder Single Mix, which cleverly interpolates the synth riff of I Feel Love into it) for sure, but in general Blondie-fanatics gave Curse a thumbs up. I think it’s a great 11 track album, alas it’s got 14 tracks and those “extra” three are real turkeys (I refer to dumb-rap opener Shakedown, and those final two dirges you refer to).


        • Echorich says:

          Right there with you Taffy – not sure how they managed it – maybe the band just decided to have some fun – but Pollinator is a very satisfying listen. Doom Or Destiny was full of that wonderful withering sarcasm I’ve always loved.


          • Taffy says:

            Amen. Pollinator is a lively album, and all those collaborators really play to the band’s strengths. No rap, no world music excursions, no jazzy interludes…just solid new wave-y power pop yumminess.


            • postpunkmonk says:

              Taffy …and is that so wrong??! At this point they don’t need to break new ground. Heck, Blondie did plenty of that in the first five years. They should just play to their strengths.


              • Taffy says:

                not wrong at all…In case you misunderstood, I was offering the lack of genre-hopping as a plus, and why the album is so strong.


  4. Tim says:

    Which two of Dolby’s hits are the ones you don’t care to hear? Hyperactuve Science?
    By the way, have you read his book yet?


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