Friday, May 2, 2014

My Concert Life

I haven't touched my blog for some time now and the main reason is that I have had nothing I wanted to write about. My blog doesn't detail my life on a daily, weekly or even annual basis. Like Forest Gump said (I watched it five or six times on AMC's Forest Gump Marathon a few weeks ago), " When I was hungry, I ate. When I was tired, I slept..." Well, when I feel the need to write, I write.

My concert days are coming to an end. This is a sad occasion, but I am going out with a bang. I'm finally going to get to see a Beatle. I missed seeing them at the Gator Bowl because my Mother would neither buy me a ticket or let me go on someone else's dime. I was in Jr. high school when the Beatles were here, so it simply might have been my age. But thinking back, I was allowed to go with my girlfriend Carla Misamore to the Big Ape Conventions held in the Jacksonville Coliseum.
Where It All Started
 I can't fathom what the price of a ticket was in the early sixties. Probably $4.00 would buy a ticket to teen idol heaven that included the likes of Bobby Vee, Joey Dee and the Star Lighters, Mary Wells....possibly Bobby Rydell and definitely Lou Christie. I say "possibly" because I really can't remember the line-up of fifty two years ago. They might have been one or two hit wonders, but I was all dressed up,  captivated by the music and being out on my own without parents.

As I got older and had my own job, I was lucky that I always had the money for concert tickets and believe me, I have been to see the best of the best. I have seen the best at their worst and the worst at their best. I have traveled to Tampa, Gainesville, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and Atlanta just for a concert. But as a Jacksonville girl, I lived in a concert waste land pretty much until the city muckety-mucks realized that they could sell a bunch of over priced parking spaces and $6.00 hot dogs. The Jacksonville music scene seemed void of all music louder than Jones College Radio for many years. This began to shift at some point and through the years big names finally found Jacksonville.

Around  1968, I saw the Monkees at the Jacksonville Coliseum. Their opening act was none other than Jimi Hendrix. This was the teeth playing behind his back Hendrix. My ears rang for several days. Unfortunately, I did not appreciate him then. I've always hated unknown opening acts.

In 1969 or around that time, I was lucky. Jacksonville University's Homecoming concert featured a 28 year old Neil Diamond in his greaser days (the "Kentucky Woman" and "Red Red Wine" Neil Diamond). His voice was clear, smooth and heavenly....LIKE THIS !!   They also brought in Spanky and Our Gang, comedians Robert Kline and David Steinberg and old Doc Severinsen from the Tonight Show. Mind blowing music.  But one of the most memorable concerts I ever attended at JU or any other place for that matter was to see  very young and hungry Billy Joel. I had a second row seat and could see the sweat flying off of his forehead. I left that concert and I was floating on cloud nine. What a performance.

After I left South Georgia College (where I saw Neil Diamond the second time also in a gym), I got hooked on Leon Russell. A pretty good looking guy with long salt & pepper hair back then, Leon is close to holding the record for concerts I've attended the most. He has always liked small venues. I saw him twice in the old gym at The University of Florida when he was performing with his wife Mary Russell. Leon also performed in topless bars and I saw him at Dubs,
Possibly Taken at Dub's Topless Bar
Leon Looks Like I Feel
a topless bar somewhere between Gainesville and Waldo. One topless bar lasted me a lifetime. Leon likes to show up  late, play until his fingers go numb and I have never heard him speak a word. I saw him at the Jacksonville Beaches Auditorium several times and a BBQ joint on Beach Blvd that was formerly a 7-11. One of my first outings with my new sister-in-law, Kim, was to that Leon Russell concert at the former 7-11. I knew she was cool after she agreed to wait outside in freezing weather to get Leon's autograph on a cassette insert I had brought along just in case. I saw him last year at the Florida Theater.

Me, In My Concert Going Hay Day
((Days of Great Vigor, Strength & Health)
At the old Beaches Auditorium, I  saw the Allman Brothers and the not so famous band Sea Level. Sea Level was a really cool jazz/fusion/rock band and I had to drag my friend Alison along with me to hear them. Neither she nor I realized until just a few years ago that we were listening to Chuck Leavell's band. He has been playing piano for Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, George Harrison and many others. He was just as good then as he is now.  It pays to listen to NPR.

I used to love driving to Gainesville after work with tickets in hand to see the likes of Donavan Leitch, The Mamas and The Papas, Jimmy Buffett and Steve Martin during his "happy feet" silly days. He made me laugh until I cried and then started back laughing. They have a name for that behavior now and call it a mental disorder.

The OLD U of F Gymnasium
After the old gym ceased to be a concert venue and the O'Connell Center was built and I lost touch with the woman at the university box office who would send me concert tickets before I sent her a check (really), I haven't been to a concert in Gainesville since.

I Think Mick & Keith Looked Like This When I First Saw Them the First Time
I'm Not Sure - I Was SO FAR AWAY

I've seen the Rolling Stones twice. Once with Van Halen at the old Orange Bowl and once at the Gator Bowl where I also saw The Who and Michael Jackson. 

My Most Favorite Concert Venue !
I've seen Tom Jones twice (the younger model and then the older version). Both versions were incredible. I've seen Elvis Presley (the older version),The Doobie Brothers, Chicago, Cat Stevens (in Atlanta at the Omni), Ike and Tina Turner, Van Cliburn, Gordon Lightfoot, Dave Brubeck, 
Bette Midler, Bill Withers, Air Supply (on Key Biscayne), Michael Franks (in Miami), Fleetwood Mac, Bob Seeger, George Benson (in Ft, Lauderdale), Alice Cooper on his Billion Dollar Babies Tour (that was scarry) and Tony Bennett. I loved Allison Krauss with Union Station, Michael McDonald, George Winston, Melanie (the older version), Peter, Paul and Mary, Arlo Guthrie, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Sam Kenison, Barry Manilow, Judy Collins, Luciano Pavarotti, .38 Special, Herby Mann (at Applejacks), James Galway (twice) and Liza Minelli (in Pittsburgh). I drove to both Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa to see Earl Klugh and saw him twice in Jacksonville. His music was so romantic.
Earl Klugh

And then there were The Moody Blues. They love golf and they love Jacksonville because of it, I read in their "fanzine". I loved them so much I even joined their fan club. Lon & I took Andy to Daytona to see them for his "first" rock concert. Not that he cared either way, but I think he had more fun on this bungee sling shot thing next to the hotel. I couldn't watch that so I fled back to out hotel room and closed the drapes. I wasn't interested in watching my son being catapulted into the Atlantic Ocean. I went to see The Moody Blues so many times at the Florida Theater I've lost count and once at the Shrine Auditorium. Until the past several years, they were one of the few bands that had all the original members still standing ...well almost...I've seen them in their forties and in their late sixties...I've seen them fat and I've seen them thin. I can sing along to all of their songs. When  I last saw them, their flute player,  Ray Thomas, left the band and I missed him. I decided that I had seen them at their best and that was enough for me. I have had plenty of the Days of Future Past.
Moody Blues Out of Shape- Need More Golf

In recent years, I have seen  Michael Buble three times and all times were...well...wonderful. I saw John Mayer at his first concert in Jacksonville and I finally got to "see" Eric Clapton.  When I say "see", that was on the big screen in the Veterans Arena. As usual, I ended up behind the beer drinking, standing dancers grooving to the music. I was and have always been the sober sitter there to savor the music and stare at God (in Clapton's case). Pity.

Now that I am much older and in shitty shape, I need concert seating in the "accessible seating" section. At first I thought this would be a really bad thing. As it turns out, it is like having your own quiet box seat with no one to bother you or spill beer on your feet. The seats are pretty good and cheaper than everyone else in the same seating level.  No stairs, no problems and with a restroom about six steps away. Who could ask for more?  Another plus when buying tickets for the soon to be wonderful Paul McCartney concert in June, I got to  "live chat" with the box office guy. It was like talking to a person here in the United States, not that I mind purchasing tickets from someone who is in a suburb of New Delhi.  Membership has its privileges.

So now you are up to date on my life in concert. 

I am looking forward to seeing Sir Paul. I mean, I AM REALLY, REALLY looking forward to seeing him. There aren't many artists performing today I want to see, except for maybe Diana Krall or Sting (not together).  Kim and I have a date for Paul McCartney and I am planning for the big night already. I will meet Paul out in Ponte Vedra at a certain some one's (????) private residence, we will walk on the beach and he will tell me all about his divorce with the girl with the wooden leg. He'll explain to me why he had his eyes done and I will tell him he really doesn't need to color his hair. He'll reminisce about the Cavern Club and explain why the Beatles couldn't play even one song together before John and George died and he'll also probably want to unload on me and complain about Yoko Ono hounding him day and night for more royalties. I'll reassure him that he will in fact some day get those Jacksons to let go of the rights to his songs that they own and he will explain to me the British Honours System and who gets to wear a medal and who gets to wear a ribbon. Afterwards, I'll go  my way and he'll go  his way and then when he gets home, he will "friend" me on facebook.  I REALLY, REALLY can't wait.

I Will Be "Out There" Probably For The Last Time - I'm Getting Too Old For This!