Winning George Gershwin Prize and charming everyone

There is some amazing television this summer on PBS. Last night’s performance at the White House featuring Paul McCartney was one of the best.

Dave Grohl singing Band on the Run (the intro is weak but wait until Dave starts rocking!)

As a Canadian I keep asking myself: why can’t our public broadcaster give us more quality programming like PBS?

McCartney was receiving the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song and performed many of his hits, along with musical friends Dave Grohl, Jack White, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, EmmyLou Harris and others.  You have to sing for your supper when at the White House apparently.

The show was a transcendent moment. Here was the voice of our generation singing of love and peace, being introduced by the first black president. Both Obama and McCartney knew they were kindred spirits. This was the dream of the baby boomers, the world trying to move towards a better, kinder and more gentle space.

Top magical moments were Paul serenading Michelle Obama with Michelle,the duet with Stevie Wonder on Ebony Ivory, Eleanor Rigby, Let It Be (insert tears welling up on that one), Yesterday and a rousing Hey Jude with everyone joining in.

Top guest moment had to be Dave Grohl who gave McCartney a rocking run for his money screaming Band on the Run. Stevie Wonder was great on We Can Work It Out. The moment on Ebony and Ivory was great but we sure miss Michael Jackson.

The Jonas Brothers were right on with Drive My Car and obviously appealed to the President’s daughters.

Jack White was disappointing. Every Mother’s Son is an odd song and his performance was flat. EmmyLou Harris was flat on For No One and so was Faith Hill on Long and Winding Road.  Faith Hill used to have a great set of pipes but she was holding back last night.

Lang Lang on Celebrations was confusing. Was he trying to impress us with some crazy improvisation. Herbie Hancock improvised Blackbird with Corinne Bailey Rae but he didn’t lose his way.  We suffered through Elvis Costello bellowing Penny Lane. That man is plain dreadful.

The criticisms don’t detract from the overall entertainment value of the 90 minute show, except Lang Lang and Elvis Costello which made nice bathroom/kitchen breaks.

The show airs tonight and on into August so check the schedule and turn on your PVR. We watched the end on one PBS station and then found it starting minutes later in HD.

PBS are being tight lipped about posting more than excerpts and a few videos until the premiere run of the show is over. The show was taped June 2nd, 2010.

CBC Canada’s public broadcaster

More and more we find ourselves tuning into PBS for decent television. We’ve seen a Neil Young documentary, a re-broadcast of No Direction Home about Bob Dylan in the past week along with a Merle Haggard documentary.

Except for their deadly dull talking head news shows, PBS night-time broadcasts blow the doors of CBC with it’s weak line-up.

Why can’t the CBC do more documentaries about Canada and Canadians? We should be getting more shows about Canadian artists and not stupid interviews by Peter Mansbridge of Gordon Lightfoot.

Sample Mansbridge question, “How do you ever think up all those songs?” Duh!