Thursday, June 15, 2006

Summer Concerts

Six Trees, 2006, Oil on Panel, 18x24

I have been on a concert ticket buying frenzy the last few weeks. First the news came that Paul Simon will be playing a concert in a nearby town this summer, (part of the same concert event that brought Bob Dylan in two years ago) so I bought tickets for that. Doug and I are both Paul Simon fans, not rabid, but enough to be interested in seeing him when he's this close. Then I started my periodic checks on some of my favorite singer's websites and was happy to see that Ray LaMontagne will be playing Saratoga Springs in August. I love, love love his music and listen to it all of the time. Doug and I were able to see him about a year ago at the Bowery Ballroom on NYC. He is just getting started really, as a musician and performer, so he is still playing these great smaller venues. We managed to claim a place right in the very front row and even though Doug and I both had to use the bathroom during the whole concert, we stayed put, not wanting to lose those great spots. We were so close we could have touched him. Evidently there were a lot of technical problems with the previous night's performance, but he was perfect the night we went. He played about half the set by himself or with an energetic, laughing guy on an upright bass. At one point some violin and cello players came in and they were entertaining as well, swaying and moving with the music, one guy had this really out of control hair and I still have this great image of him and his hair and his grooving in his chair. So I quickly bought tickets to this summer's performance and Doug and I are totally looking forward to seeing Ray LaMontagne again.

When I was checking into the concert hall in Saratoga Springs where the Ray LaMontagne concert will be, I looked at the summer line-up and noticed that Phil Lesh and Friends will be playing in early July. Doug is definitely a deadhead, the kind that actually followed them around on theirs tours in the 70's in a VW van filled with hippies. I am not quite so much a fan, in fact not at all really, but since Doug was kind enough to suffer through a Donny Osmond concert on my birthday in 1989 during his "comeback" tour (don't laugh, it was good!), I thought I could grit my teeth and enjoy Doug's music for once. I will probably end up liking it and if not, surely watching the audience will be interesting. So we have those three concerts this summer plus the Levon Helm Midnight Ramble in my favorite place, Woodstock, NY, which I talked about here.

I have not been to very many concerts. When I was in high school, it seemed that everyone was taking road trips up to the Twin Cities to see the Dead or Rush or whoever, but I was out of the loop on all of that. In college, I went to a few concerts, Aerosmith, Triumph and Yes, big spectacles in big crowded stadiums, which were fun but few and far between. In Philadelphia, I did see Edie Brickell (who is now married to Paul Simon) and the New Bohemians in concert right before they got really popular and that was an awesome performance. In Utah, I saw two concerts by Alice Peacock, who is a folk singer/songwriter. Those performances were excellent and I play her music all of the time, still. She was the opening act, once for John Gorka and once for Lucy Kaplansky, both of which were enjoyable too. We saw Mary Gauthier last year in a small church in the middle of nowhere and she was just incredible. She came to music a bit older than most, after having a turbulent childhood, then working as a chef and owning a restaurant in Boston (This is an interview she did a few years ago). She sells her CD's after the show and we stood in line to meet her and have her sign our copy. I had already been listening to her for months, knew all of her songs and was really touched by her music, so when we were in line I started to get really nervous to meet her. When it was our turn, I didn't say any of the usual things, like "Hello" or "I love your music" or "Great performance" but instead I blurted out "I am so nervous to meet you!" I am such a dork! She laughed and gave me a big hug. We chatted for awhile and I am sure I babbled foolishly, although Doug said I did ok. I gave her one of my business cards, which is something I seldom do, but what can I say, I had visions of doing a CD cover. Of course she probably gets stuff like that all of the time from her middle aged, female fans who feel like they know her already. Again, I am a cliche.

So that's my thin concert resume, but they were all so good, and I feel lucky. Doug and I are totally enjoying seeing these musicians at the beginnings or nearing the end of their careers and seeing them in small venues is also really nice and relaxing for us old folks. I think going to see a concert in a stadium would drive me crazy at this point (although I think I would make an exception for U2). My biggest issue now is whether I should wear my glasses to the upcoming concerts. I think I look better without them, and God knows one has to look good at a concert, heh, but I need them to, you know, see the performers.


Ed Maskevich said...

When I was young I would go to concerts at the Avalon Ballroom and The Filmore, in San Francisco in the late 1960's. There were new emerging groups like The Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and Big Brother and the Holding Company with the unknow Janis Joplin as the vocalist. It was crowded auditoriums with hundreds of sweaty people dancing the night away. That gave way to smaller venues. I would go to the jazz clubs and hear the likes of Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Phoebe Snow, and so on.

Now I don't care for crowds and tend to stray away from concerts. Although we have had some summer music festivals in the local city park. Jazz, Big Band, and even Irish music. A blanket on the grass on a warm Summer evening. I can handle that.

Tracy said...

I am truly envious, Ed! Janis! I love her! Did you ever see the Doors? I have always felt that I should have been a teen in the late sixties. Sometimes it just kills me that I couldn't go to Woodstock.

Ed Maskevich said...

Tracy, I remember the Doors at the Filmore. Jim Morrison was completeli inebriated. He systimatically was stomping out the footslights while Bill Graham just shook his head. Eventually as Morrison was spinning the microphone over his head like a lasso, the cord broke, the mike went flying and hit a patron in the head. You name the group and I probably saw them.

What will really make you envious is that on Sunday afternoons, in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, most of these groups would put on free concerts. Music, incense, cheap wine, and marijuana. Both of my daughters are green with envy. I'm glad I survived it.

Tracy said...

Ugh, I am dying here!

I have heard terrible stories about Jim Morrison's behavior, onstage and off, what a mess he was! But I still would have liked to have seen him:-) Sunday concerts, they sound amazing.

Glad you survived it all, not so sure that I would have.

S.L. Peterson said...

Call me jealous - I LOVE LOVE LOVE Ray Lamontagne! My hubby and friends don't like his music, so I always miss out on his concerts - I'm thinking I should just go by myself next time he comes to Denver/Boulder...

Tracy said...

Yayy! Another person who has heard of Ray LaMontagne! Stacers, you should definitely just go next time he comes to your area. Find your most open minded friend and I bet they will like him after they see the concert. Also, he is such an unpolished performer, it's refreshing. He just plays, mumbles thanks after a song and then starts the next one. It's cute!

bridgette said...

oh, I like Ray LaMontagne too! I heard him on an NPR interview and he has a really interesting story. I think hearing his life story made me like his music even more.

Tracy said...

Hi Bridgette, I know just what you mean about liking the music more when they have this great story behind it. I feel that way about Mary Gauthier. Anyway, you're right, Ray has had a very interesting life, before coming to make music.

Bart said...

Thanks for adding links to the names Tracy. Appart from Paul Simon and U2 I didn't know any of them!
The American music they play on the radio in Europe is probably quite different from American music in the US.

It was nice to listen to their music through the homepages and discovering new names.

Tracy said...

Hi Bart, thanks but I don't think any of those musicians, besides Paul Simon and U2, are very well known in the US either!

I think Ray LaMontagne is pretty popular in England.

Lesly said...

Hi Tracy ... oh lucky, LUCKY you .. Paul Simon in concert. I wish! Have you ever played his album 'Hearts and Bones' - just the best.

While we were still Brits in Britain we went to a number of concerts over the years .. all wonderful: Acker Bilk, Chris Barber, Sky, Gerry Rafferty, Simply Red, Dire Straits. You can't beat live concerts .. even when you get to be 'shrivelly' rockers like us!

Sadly not many big names get down here to New Zealand, or if they do they go to Auckland or Wellington -don't often venture down here to the deep dark lower South Island!

Have a great, great time!