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See those bands!

OK. Something personal.

I was supposed to see Prince awhile back. He played four straight nights in a small venue where we would have actually seen Prince. Not far away. Really seeing him.

To top it off, Carlos Santana jumped on stage and jammed several songs with him.

Imagine, seeing two Guitar Gods performing on the same night.

Then, a few months later, Prince died. We never bought this tickets.

Very sad. Not just for us, but for the whole music world. You can’t replace Prince. You just can’t.

Prince was one of those once in a lifetime people. Good at everything. Purple Rain to this day is one of my favorite albums of all-time.

So we decided after Prince’s death to not miss bands.

Iron Maiden

So when Iron Maiden came to town, no way we weren’t going to see Iron Maiden. I loved their first five albums. Hopefully this isn’t sacrilege, but I stopped following them after Live After Death. I got heavily into Classical music and didn’t really listen to modern music that much from that time period on. Nothing against Maiden. More my own personal musical transformation.

That said, I still listen to all five of those first five albums. And when Iron Maiden came into town. they played only their 80s stuff. Which was great. It was mostly the stuff I liked.

Iron Maiden - Flight of Icarus
Iron Maiden – Flight of Icarus 2019

Billy Idol

And, got to keep the Mrs happy. Her second favorite singer is Billy Idol. Her first is Frank Sinatra but I don’t have a time machine.

Billy Idol played locally. We decided instead to go nuts and rather than seeing him locally, fly into Vegas and spend the weekend doing really cool stuff.

Billy Idol put on a heck of a show. Steve Stevens did a lot of guitar solos, including one with a Flamenco guitar.

The band was tight and the crowd really got into it. Everyone danced when Rebel Yell came on. We all just got up and danced.

Billy Idol live in Vegas
Billy Idol live in Vegas

See those shows, my friends. Bands break up. People die. You might not get that chance again.

You got to keep scratching things off your bucketlist.

Any excuse to go to Vegas

Yeah, I get it. Vegas isn’t everyone’s thing.

The funny thing is, I don’t gamble. I just don’t. Not like it’s a religious or moral thing for me. I don’t gamble because I don’t like losing money. And like it or not, the house almost always wins.

But everything else? Great place to see live bands. We absolutely loved the venue, inside the Palms hotel.

We could have had a 7′ tall man sitting in front of us and we still would have seen the show. Absolutely loved how they managed to make the seats so you could actually see.

And of course, you always meet neat people along the Strip. These two girls were pretty cool. They were both having a pretty bad day because some drunk ladies took out their frustrations on them, just because they were there.

Vegas girls
Vegas girls

We had fantastic bartenders everywhere we went. Killed a bottle of wine in the Luxor. We also had quite a few whiskeys in the Sands. The bartenders were fascinating people. I was most impressed by the bartender at the Sands. Under 30 and really had her future cut out well for her.

Anyways, not every blog post is going to be a watercolor lesson. I wanted to share some of my human side with you.

And I strongly believe that whether you believe in an afterlife, reincarnation, or this is all we get, you got to scratch things off your bucketlist in this life. See those bands you need to see!

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On Flamenco guitars, Mistresses, and the Spanish Inquisition

Pepita Godoy's mistress

It’s pretty sad that most Westerners know nothing about Western civilization. Schools nowadays are so much more into indoctrination than actually teaching kids anything useful.

Culture is everything. Well, not quite everything. You gotta know some math and science and other shit.

But as an artist, when people talk about culture, I’m happy.

So, let me tell you a personal story and a dangerous historical story and I’m going to combine the two where we meet.

First, the mistress and the danger

Back in the old days, artists often relied on patrons. Goya had several. One of whom doubled as a close personal friend of his – Manual Godoy, who later became Secretary of State, then the Prime Minister of the Spanish Empire.

Funny background – Godoy was a regular guy. But he was a damn good guitarist, fighter, and bullshitter. Those abilities got him far in life, and he eventually impressed the Royal Family. They liked him so much that he eventually rose to Secretary of State.

But, he had a problem. He was madly in love with Pepita Tudó. Which was fine, but for political reasons, he had to marry another woman.

He ended up having Pepita as his mistress and the affair lasted until his wife died, whereupon he married Pepita.

So decades before he finally married Pepita, he hired his dear friend, Francisco Goya (who I argue is Spain’s greatest ever artist) to paint Pepita nude.

The public saw the clothed version of that painting, seen above. The Spanish Inquisition however also came across the nude version of the painting and threw a fit.

Both Goya and Godoy were called before the Spanish Inquisition for some explaining to do. This could have been the end of Goya’s career.

Luckily, Goya was super smart. He pointed out the painting’s similarities to other works of art by other artists that weren’t so controversial. And he made the Spanish Inquisition look like a bunch of philistines.

To save face, the Spanish Inquisition called it off. Thankfully, that painting remains to this day and is now side by side with its sister painting in El Prado in Madrid. So yes, I’ve seen them both in real life. Pictures don’t do them justice. At all. You need to see them in real life.

Inspirations

After visiting El Prado in 2015, my wife and I went to the Gothic District in Barcelona. We saw a Flamenco group perform. 8 musicians. 3 dancers. A performance I’ll vividly remember until the day I die.

I stumbled across a luthier in the Gothic District in Barcelona and just happened to have a lot of money on me at the time. I got lucky. He had a bunch of violins, some cellos, and two Flamenco guitars in stock. I walked away with a Flamenco guitar and brought it back to the States.

Opium Tales flamenco guitar Pepita
Pepita – my Spanish guitar

What did I name her? Pepita. Of course.

The story didn’t end there

You probably already know the story of Goya. If not, here’s the summary. Goya went on to be the greatest artist of his day and lived so long that he got to see a lot of his paintings make it into the Prado. Imagine that!

As for Godoy and Pepita, happily ever after?

Not quite.

Pepita was more his fuck buddy. Yes, he was in love with her in the beginning.

But, he really fell in love with Queen Maria Luisa, the Queen of Spain, the wife of Charles IV, and the granddaughter of Louis XV. You may know Louis XV as the father of Louis XVI, the King who got his head chopped off with his wife Marie Antoinette.

Godoy and the Queen had a secret affair. Godoy died almost two decades before Pepita did and before she died, she painfully told a reporter that the Queen was the only woman he truly loved.