Mr Boo and I have been busy little road warriors!
And, the last few weeks have put us on both sides of the “performance” aisle.
We’ve been to outlaw shows, outdoor shows, outrageous shows and outta-sight shows!
So, sit back, get comfy and let's start at the beginning...
Back in July we went to ashow that took place on an old farm in the middle of nowhere and the bands played in a feed barn. One of the warm-up bands was a group from Madison called, Field Report - I would highly recommend checking these guys out. The headliners were Counting Crows – I will assume many of us have already checked these guys out.
The barn was hot, the music was cool and the show was incredible!
I would like to point out that during the opening performances I noticed Adam Duritz (lead singer of Counting Crows) in the audience watching the bands. I was very impressed by his attendance because in my experience, the ‘headliner’ doesn’t watch the ‘warm-up’ bands. Thanks from all of us 'warm-uppers', Adam.
Next we headed for the great outdoors at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. The show was Brandi Carlile and included Ingrid Michaelson (the latter is now one of my top faves).
Now, frankly, this place could make watching goats fainting seem awesome – so imagine how much more awesome it is when there’s amazing music on stage. (And, no, we are not attempting to compare Ms. Carlile to fainting goats. It’s an analogy, silly.) The performances were fantastic, including Ingrid doing a looping vocal solo of Night Swimming by REM – that could just about blow anyone’s mind - and Brandi’s band doing a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody - which (not surprisingly) got all our heads flailing back and forth in imitation of Wayne's World.
Of course, what was most visually astounding to me was the beauty and grandeur of the venue itself. The rock, the colours. 9,000 people seated on tiered steps, dancing, talking, watching, singing. No crowding. No shoving. No shouting. And the sun making it’s exit behind us while Denver began it’s evening light show below us. In a word - Whoa.
Our week in Colorado ended with my yearly pilgrimage to Alma’s ‘Festival in the Clouds’. This is one of those ‘best kept secret’ kinda shows where it’s just about feeling good and having fun – two things of which I am very familiar. (It’s even easier when you’ve been deprived of oxygen for several days…)
Soon after I found myself back at sea-level again and a bit north doing a few shows in Minnesota. I always enjoy playing in MN - especially Charlie’s Irish Pub where there is no end of wonderfully talented friends who will jump up on stage with me and jam out a few tunes.
The highlight of that weekend was playing, “The Good Stuff” with none other than the incomparable, Emma Bull and my most talented brother, Joe. The surreality of this was compounded by the fact that I’d first performed this song with Emma and our band, Cats Laughing, back in the late 80’s and had re-recorded said song on a solo project with my brother back in the 90’s. Time’s like this? that’s what I call the good stuff.
Next, I’m in Dixon, IL to perform at Gardenstock. A little hippie festival that raises money for area youth groups. And I’m a little hippie – so it was a no-brainer for me to play at this festival. The producers, Bud & Lisa, are amazing people, the volunteers were awesome and the entire event was just plain groovy!
At one point during the event an artist was free-handing what I can only describe as ‘linearspin art’ and there was band after band of just incredible musicians playing 60’s & 70’s covers as well as some remarkable original material. (My hat off to Wrong Element and their version of the Pixie’s, ‘Where is my Mind’.)
Then, in some alternate-universe-para-dynamic-time-warp, comes the “Gentlemen of the Road” tour featuring bands like, Dawes, Nathanial Ratecliff, (my personal favorites) Gogol Bordello and headliner’s, Mumford & Sons – IN DIXON, IL… WTF?!?!?!?! That’s right, just down the road from this quaint little hippie fest was a raging cacophonic milieu of music, mud and mayhem. 15000 people standing, sitting, roaming around between two stages listening to awesome band after incredible band. (Side note; the population of Dixon, IL is only 16000)
After a restful night’s sleep and a grand breakfast we were ready for the last part of this summer’s whirlwind musical adventure.
Mr Boo and I drove about an hour south of Dixon to Spring Valley where we arrived at the home of J and Linda – our house concert hosts for the evening. However, this was no ordinary house concert… this was to be me, opening for… Marshall Crenshaw.
Anyone who was listening to radio in the 80’s (is that redundant?) will remember Marshall Crenshaw’s music. And, I have to admit, it’s only gotten better with age.
He is an amazing guitarist, lyricist, vocalist and played a fantastic show. One of the highlights of the evening - for me - was sitting in on a tune playing backing percussion on a plastic ‘egg’ shaker (actually, it’s a purple skull-shaped egg shaker but who’s counting). Marshall asked if anyone had brought a drum or maracas cuz he wanted a backbeat for the next song – I was never so happy as at that moment when I remembered I’d packed that thing in my FX case.
(There’s video of the song on YouTube.)
(There’s video of the song on YouTube.)
And, I’m happy to report that Marshall Crenshaw took the time to listen to my set.
He liked it.