Superlative concerts I have attended

from Seals and Crofts to Sheila E.

Tom PettyLots of fine folks seem to be doing this meme. So what the hey.

First concert: Seals and Crofts, November 12, 1971 in New York City, Boz Scaggs opening.

Last concert: Janet Jackson, July 26, 2018 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. No, wait, I saw Cheap Trick February 7, 2020.

Best concert: I have always said that it was Talking Heads at SPAC or the Temptations at the Colonie Coliseum during the Reunion tour, both from back in the 1980s. Still, Paul McCartney, July 7, 2014, with my daughter rates very high.

Worst concert: Almost certainly Joe Jackson at the Palace Theater in Albany in 1989. I swore I told this story but I couldn’t find it. Jackson, after playing one or two familiar songs, played the entirety of Side 1 of his new album, Blaze of Glory. Then a couple old songs, then the entirety of Side 2.

The audience was ticked and many of them headed for the concession stands or the bathrooms. They returned when he played stuff they knew. I should note that I subsequently bought the album, and I think it’s fine. But playing a half dozen unfamiliar songs is not a way to win over the crowd.

At least Jackson was comprehensible. The 2007 Bob Dylan concert in Albany at the Knick* was awful. Fortunately, the opening acts, Amos Lee and Elvis Costello, were great.

Seen the most: the Temptations; Lucinda Williams; Pete Droge; the Neville Brothers; Crosby, Stills, and Nash – no Young; Joan Armatrading; Sheila E.; and infamously, Joni Mitchell I’ve seen twice each.

Next concert: God only knows.

Most fun concert: Probably Bruce Springsteen in Albany’s Knick* in 2009. Though Elton John c 2000 at the same venue was a hoot. And there was a battle of the bands in San Diego in July 2018, which my niece’s band, Rebecca Jade and the Cold Fact won, and I got free drinks.

Loudest: actually, it might have been Sheila E. at the New York State Fairgrounds in September 2019. They crank out the sound so even those not in the audience could hear it.

I need to note a band I saw open for No Doubt in Albany in 1997. I THINK it was MxPx. The sheer constant audio assault was unnerving. The Specials were also on that tour, and a bunch of the idiot kids literally turned their backs on them.

Wish you could see: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

* There’s a venue downtown originally called the Knickerbocker Arena. Then they sold the naming rights and it became one of a number of entities called the Pepsi Arena. Currently, it’s the Times Union Center. I just call it the Knick.

Blows against the empire

Will I see Summer before summer?

Aside from the day-to-day activities, there have been a few events I have missed. The Blows Against the Empire tour was canceled before it got to Clifton Park, near Albany. It wasn’t that I was desperate to see that show. But I was going to go with my oldest friend from my college days. And he was going to pay!

I was planning a trip to my hometown of Binghamton, NY in March 2020 for two reasons. I’m looking for the transcript of the October 1926 trial involving my biological grandfather Raymond Cone, at which my grandmother, then Agatha Walker, testified against him. I also wanted to track her location in the city directories during the 1930s. However, both City Hall and the local library are closed until they aren’t.

Also, my friend since kindergarten Carol, not to be confused with my wife Carol, was going to fly up from Texas to visit her mom. So I’d have a chance for a visit with her and perhaps my Binghamton-area friends. Not yet.

Postponed, so far

At the Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, I have a subscription. The musical Summer, about the disco queen Donna, has moved from March to June. Will that actually come to pass? Or Dear Evan Hansen, still scheduled for June? Or Come From Away in September? What does theater look like in the era of physical distancing? Does the economic model even work?

Then there are the ersatz gatherings. The weekly church services, which get better as the folks have figured out the technology. The Bible studies. The Google Hangouts, Zoom meetings, and whatnot.

Something that I have discovered about sharing screens on these platforms. Sometimes they can be quite useful. On one Zoom call, a guy with the same surname as some of my ancestors wanted to see my family tree. I’m going to be helping my friend with some librarian skills, and her seeing what I’m working on will be great. On the other hand, one ought not to feel obliged to share JUST because one can, technologically.

We’re muddling through.

Musicians I have seen perform live

“Here are nine people who will lose their protected coverage under AHCA/Trumpcare and one who won’t. Guess which one.”

Y’know, just a torrent of people were doing this thing on Facebook, and presumably elsewhere, where one picks out nine concerts they’ve been to, and one they have not.

And it’s made me cranky. It’s not just that it is a litmus test about “How well you know me?” It’s the premise of something going viral based on lying, I guess, that’s put me off. Or maybe I’m just a contrarian.

The pushback I’VE seen about this phenomenon has been more about that it’s braggadocio, which I understand. I’ve just been lucky, I reckon. I used to go to the certain festivals where I listened to multiple artists, so that helped, a LOT. Also, there have been some great series of FREE music in Albany over the years.

Making the list has also been a real test for me to recall how many artists I actually HAVE seen, because memory. Suddenly it’s “Oh, yeah, I saw Don McLean at the Dutchess County Fair in the 1970s!” Or “Roberta Flack was at the Palace Theatre on First Night in Albany in the 1990s!”

I never saw the Grateful Dead, but I WAS at this show:

November 6, 1975 Elting Gym, SUNY, New Paltz, NY Kingfish/Keith and Donna
Kingfish and Keith and Donna toured the East Coast in November. In the Bay Area, with Jerry Garcia a regular in nightclubs since 1970, Deadheads were very casual about the opportunity to see Grateful Dead spinoffs. In the East, however, the chance to see 4 members of The Dead (Weir, Kreutzmann, Keith and Donna) plus an ex-New Rider (Dave Torbert) in the same night was somewhat of a big deal. The Kingfish/Keith and Donna bill played medium sized theaters that neither band could have played at home.

So I’ve decided that you can try to guess which of these artists, who I have been present when they performed live at some point in my life, that I’ve seen more than once. Or not, it’s up to you. I THINK it’s five, but, you know, that memory thing again.

Joan Armatrading
Joan Baez
Bridget Ball and Chris Shaw
Marcia Ball
Tony Bennett
David Bromberg
Jackson Browne
Dave Brubeck
Marc Cohn
Judy Collins
Chick Corea
Elvis Costello
Crosby, Stills, and Nash
Bob Dylan
Jonathan Edwards
Roberta Flack
Bela Fleck
The Four Tops
Keith and Donna Godchaux
The Go-Go’s
The Grand Slambovians
Nanci Griffith
Herbie Hancock
John Hiatt
Joe Jackson
Elton John
Billy Joel
Diana Krall
Alison Krauss
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Amos Lee
Sean Lennon
Lyle Lovett
Paul McCartney
Bobby McFerrin
Don McLean
Joni Mitchell
Neville Brothers
No Doubt
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Jean-Luc Ponty
Billy Preston
John Prine
The Roches
Linda Ronstadt
Boz Scaggs
Seals and Crofts
John Sebastian
Pete Seeger
Paul Simon
The Slambovian Circus of Dreams
The Specials
Bruce Springsteen
Slam Stewart
Sweet Honey in the Rock
Talking Heads
James Taylor
Koko Taylor
Livingston Taylor
The Temptations
They Might Be Giants
McCoy Tyner
Loudon Wainwright III
Lucinda Williams
Maria Zemantauski

And if you know I’ve left off someone, please let me know. It’s not just possible, it’s extremely likely.

If I HAD participated, the band I would have lied about was The Who, who were in Albany, maybe three blocks from where I was was working in 1995, but I didn’t see them.

My complaint notwithstanding, there are some clever variations on the theme, such as the “nine professions that I dated (one lie).” Or “Here are nine people who will lose their protected coverage under AHCA/Trumpcare and one who won’t. Guess which one.” Choice #10 being “Any member of the US Congress.”

GOP, Cuomo, concerts and hiking

boehnerJaquandor, the emperor of Byzantium Shores, muses:

What will it take to get the Republican Party to start moving back to the real world? I look at their collective insanity right now as the 2016 election cycle is revving up, and I remember how I noted in 2012 that if Obama was reelected, THAT year’s Republican Crazy would look quaint compared to what was coming in four years. Now that this prediction is coming OH SO TRUE, I’m worried about what the Republican field will look like in 2020 if the Democratic nominee wins next year.

Some people think that it will take another couple of electoral drubbings for the White House, but I’m thinking, as long as they keep winning at midterm time, that will be enough to keep them thinking that the Insane Approach is JUST THIS CLOSE to winning. (Sorry for the length of the question!)

Re: crazy: I thought the Republicans were in 1994. Now Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker, looks, in retrospect, practically looks like a statesman. You’ve answered your own question: when they start to lose.

I am starting to wonder if party alignments will begin to fray. John Boehrer (pictured) quits as Speaker amidst cheering from some Tea Party types, who considered him a RINO (Republican In Name Only), which is absurd. They are seeking an ideological purity, an “our way or the highway” philosophy, of people who do not appear to want to govern, or even have a government.

If a Democrat wins the White House in 2016, I have a sense that there will continue to be a bloc of obstructionists, in some ways, worse than what Obama faced in 2009, with little chance of a honeymoon. And if it’s a Republican President, I’m not sure he or she will fare much better, because, depending on the Congressional races, it could embolden the House fringe especially.

I can’t think about 2018, never mind 2020.

What’s your general take on Governor Cuomo, now that he’s into his second term? I can’t help feeling there’s something smarmy about the guy.

In some ways, Andrew Cuomo was his father Mario’s enforcer, so he’s been a schmuck for a while. Still, I voted for him in 2006 when he ran for Attorney General, and in 2010, when he went for governor. But I voted against him, twice, in 2014, in the primary and the general election. I ALWAYS voted for Mario, at least a half dozen times.

Some of my antipathy towards Andrew has to do with his generally manipulative ways, particularly with the Common Core education process. He dismantled the Moreland Commission looking into corruption when there was still work to do. He’s hostile to the press, and many citizens. Even the gun control SAFE Act, which I tend to support, I thought was forced through the legislature without due process. During the prison break, he seemed to insert himself in the story as much as possible.

I realized what a jerk he could be when he shows up on his brother Chris’ news program, as Jon Stewart pointed out. He’s just annoying.

This story in the New Yorker from February 2015 is pretty balanced.

There was some controversy in Buffalo recently over tickets to an upcoming Paul McCartney concert — the tickets were WILDLY expensive and sold out almost instantly, leaving a lot of angry people. Do you have views on how live music takes place these days? Demand for Garth Brooks tickets earlier this year led to Brooks actually adding shows to his Buffalo stop — I think he did five total shows — and the Rolling Stones recently sold out Ralph Wilson Stadium. Any thoughts? (What’s with me and the long questions?)

Yeah, I got McCartney tickets on the secondary market for his show in Albany, and they were pricey. I didn’t know until too late if I had followed him on his website a week before the tickets went on sale, I might have had a better shot at the tickets. I don’t have a solution except to say “no”.

Hiking in the woods: Yay or Nay? I’ve always liked hiking but I’ve REALLY taken a shine to it over the last year, now that I’ve got this four-legged-friend to hike with.

On flat services, or mild inclines/declines without a lot of tree roots to trip me up, sure. But I better wear my knee brace, just in case.

The “Slow Audience Participation” movement

Exasperated, I turned around, said nothing since that would have been likewise disruptive, but gave that universal palms-up symbol for, “Will you please shut up?”

The Wife and I saw Les Miserables at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady a couple of months ago, and it was as marvelous as the reviews in the Times Union and Metroland suggested. I had never seen any stage production of Les Miz before. Though I didn’t love the movie adaptation, we were both glad to have seen it so we would better understand the plot.

Here’s what I didn’t like: During that last, very stirring, song, six or eight people got up and left, which I found really distracting, especially since they were seated near the front and in the middle section. If they were so worried about getting home, they should have left at intermission to beat the crowds. I’d never seen that particular behavior before.

It wasn’t the only annoying activity during the performance. Someone, two or three seats from us kept turning on his mobile device. I don’t know if he was texting or just checking the time; no one of his generation seems to know what a watch is. I’ve seen similar behavior at the movie theaters, even the tony Spectrum Theatre in Albany. Even someone using their device on the opposite aisle and two rows up I will notice because the illumination distracts me from the film.

At the end of Billy Elliot at Proctors in June, the lead leaves the stage via an aisle on the theater. When he makes his return, he’s literally bumping into folks getting ready to leave. (I was so annoyed.)

Some folks at the Albany Symphony Orchestra at least wait for the final note before they rush off. Likewise, moviegoers depart when the credits come up, even when a bit of the movie is still going on, such as in Hope Springs and Bernie.

I was at a conference at the end of April, and two guys were talking through the introduction of the speaker, and even when the speaker began. Exasperated, I turned around, said nothing since that would have been likewise disruptive, but gave that universal palms-up symbol for, “Will you please shut up?”

Apparently, even Broadway audiences are not immune to bad behavior.

The slow food movement>was designed so that people could ENJOY eating more, by eschewing fast food, processed products cooked in the microwave, and the like. Not only is it healthier, but it’s also more enjoyable to be part of the process.

In a similar mode, I’m suggesting a “slow audience response” movement. Please stop talking when the speaker/movie/concert starts, and wait for the event to actually end before fumbling with your keys. You may actually enjoy it better if you are “present” at the event, rather than treating it as one more thing to check off the to-do list. I KNOW your fellow audience members will appreciate it.
The Muppets of Sesame Street tell you how to watch a movie…


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