Where am I Concerting Next?

Not consorting, which sounds more fun, but concerting, which I define as the act of going to a concert. Merriam Webster may disagree, but what the hell does he know? He still owes me for drinks that one night as we argued the merits of gerunds until the wee hours of the morning.

Anyway, I enjoyed hitting the road with my youngest daughter a few weeks back to catch a Lumineers/Caamp concert followed by a Lord Huron show. The 4th of July weekend is typically a good time to see a free concert in the greater Chicagoland area. I had hopes for a show at Frontier Days in suburban Arlington Heights. Tonight they feature Ace Frehley of Kiss. Could be fun, but I am attending a “dance concert” in Chicago that my middle daughter is in as part of Noumenon Dance Ensemble. So, I can “kiss” seeing Ace Frehley goodbye.

On Saturday night, Jason Scheff, who had a cup of coffee with the band Chicago, is performing at Frontier Days. We have a neighborhood party starting in the late afternoon that should extend well past the point of when Jason Scheff takes the stage in Arlington Heights to a chorus of “Who?”

Finally, 4th of July Eve brings that vocalist Steve guy from Journey to the Frontier Days stage. No, not Steve Perry with the great voice and all the hits. This will be Steve Augeri who took over vocals for Journey and accrued no hits after Steve Perry left. Steve #2 singing the hits made famous by Steve #1 will keep me from making the journey to Arlington Heights on Sunday night.

But I do have an upcoming free concert on my calendar.

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Concert Tour Update #3

My daughter and I finished off our St. Louis concert tour with a show by Lord Huron. I had purchased tickets for both concerts with Covid in mind. So, our seats were on the side with minimal people near us. I felt this was a necessary precaution, because we were concerting in Missouri where people think Covid has been completely eradicated or never existed in the first place. Our seats for the Lord Huron show were top row, on the end.

Those seats may sound terrible with a view like this.

It could be a whole lot worse, like this seat.

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Concert Tour Update #2

My daughter and I took a break from concerting last night, and we saw St. Louis from a riverboat on the waters of the mighty Mississippi River. And boy, oh boy, what an ugly view … except when we were passing The Arch.

I don’t want to make any “arch” enemies of readers in St. Louis, so I will note that St. Louis offers a beautiful riverfront park by The Arch. But the rest of the riverfront is very industrial and agricultural. The view of and smell from the asphalt manufacturing plant was … memorable. And if you like to listen to a running commentary from the ship’s captain about bridges, tugboats, and barges (who wouldn’t?), then this is the riverboat tour for you.

However, I was very concerned about this sign I saw on the boat.

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Concert Tour Update #1

The first stop on our summer concert tour was to see Caamp and The Lumineers. Most important for me is always legroom. I chose seats that did not disappoint.

Yes, those are my delicate little feet at the bottom of the pic with lots more room to stretch out. And a clear view of the stage … at least for Caamp while everyone was seated. There was plenty of standing and dancing for The Lumineers.

Speaking of Caamp, they underwhelmed me. Their sound reminded me a bit too much of Mumford and Sons, and I can only take so much banjo at one time … unless it’s Steve Martin wielding one.

As for The Lumineers, they did not disappoint. Here’s a link to their setlist, and a clip from their set.

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My Summer Concert Tour

Thankfully, I will not be touring to perform but to partake. I hit the road Wednesday with my 13 year old daughter to head to St Louis to see two concerts, squeeze in one day of work, do some sightseeing, and get my daughter over to see her cousin from Arizona who is staying with a relative in Central Illinois. I know you’re thinking, “Jim, please tell us more about that fascinating day of work you have planned with your daughter.” Well, work plans are still in flux, so instead I will tell you about the concerts.

Wednesday we drive straight from home to our hotel, check-in to the luxuriously-appointed Holiday Inn Express, and walk across a couple parking lots to the concert venue to see …

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Walking in Chicago

If you listen to Fox News or Trump, you would think that walking in Chicago is impossible without being shot, but it is actually a lovely city to walk. According to CBS News, as of February this year, Chicago was only 28th on the list for most murders per capita among cities in the US, virtually tied with Birmingham in Republican Alabama. Of the 27 cities with higher per capita murder rates, 14 are located in Republican-dominated states like Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Indiana, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, and Missouri. So, if you ever get to Chicago, take a walk and see the city.

Friends of mine did just that the other night. I have no idea how far they walked from their parked car to City Winery, but they ended up at a Marc Cohn concert. You probably remember Cohn from his memorable hit song, “Walking in Memphis.” Such a beautiful song.

Now if that was my signature song (I wish!), at some point in the song I would sing, “Walking in (insert city name I’m performing in).” Audiences eat that up. I was surprised to hear he didn’t sing a random “Walking in Chicago” at least once. Maybe that’s why Cohn played to hundreds at City Winery rather than 60,000+ at Soldier Field on the lakefront with a laser light show and smoke machines.

As I reflected on my friend’s concert experience, it amazed me to realize that if not for a lack of musical ability, an abrasive singing voice, and a low aptitude for songwriting, my friends may have been listening to me in concert at City Winery rather than Marc Cohn. So close.

Band on the Run?

I know the world is sick of Covid, and everything is opening back up, despite breakthrough cases of Covid continuing to take the lives of double-vaccinated people who thought they were safe. I’m slowly trying to safely head back out into this weird, new, masked Covidy world. I recently went to an outdoor football game, and I went to a basketball game in a big indoor arena. I felt safer outdoors at the football game, but the seats at the basketball game were positioned in such a way that I felt okay about being there. But indoor restaurants? No, thank you. I’ll take the food to go.

I enjoyed safely meeting with friends over the summer at restaurants with outdoor patios. But last night, it was below freezing out, and I was scheduled to have dinner with friends. What do we do? We decided to head to a place with an outdoor patio that they wrap in plastic and keep cozy with overhead and tableside heaters. Even better, live music was scheduled for last night.

They looked fun and upbeat with an indie-artist vibe to them, sort of a cleaner-cut version of the Strumbellas from Canada. Take a look and you decide.

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A Disconcerting Effort to Start the Year

2019 was a great concert year for me. I went to 11 concerts, maybe more but my memory fails me on additional ones. Here they are ranked from worst to first.

11) Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple – Imagine playing only Deep Purple songs from the time when you were in the band and the group was no longer making memorable music. I walked out.

10) Black Keys/Modest Mouse – Disappointing.

9) Mt. Joy – Fun.

8) War – Free concert in the park performed with enthusiastic joy.

7) Car Seat Headrest – An pleasant evening with my oldest son listening to music by a band I was unfamiliar with on Chicago’s beautiful lakefront.

6) Smithereens with Marshall Crenshaw on lead vocals – Surprisingly good blending of talents.

5) Beatles White Album Tribute – Todd Rundgren, Mickey Dolenz, Christopher Cross, Joey Molland of Badfinger, and some guy formerly with the group Chicago performing all songs from the Beatles White Album with fun and style.

4) Heart/Sheryl Crow – Crow > Heart.

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New Music for Old Rockers – Special Old Music Edition

So this show came to town last night …

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Again. It was here a couple months ago and sold out. Last night it sold out thanks to me and a couple friends being in the crowd. We were intrigued by the concept, but were glad our seats were by the emergency exit, just in case the show was a train wreck, and we did think that was a distinct possibility. I was especially skeptical of the inclusion of Jason Scheff who provided bass and vocals for Chicago in the 1980s when Chicago was cranking out sappy love songs.

Boy, was I wrong.

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New Music for Old Rockers – Summer Bummer Concert Edition

I’ve enjoyed a most excellent concert year and spent most of my summer doing this …

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Which I have to admit was sort of weird when I went to the symphony.

I tempted fate and tried to sneak in one more concert last week before summer ended. It was a deal I couldn’t refuse. I was in St. Louis “on business” again. My evening was my own. Once again, a major music act was not selling concert tickets for their stop in St. Louis. That is not unusual. I received an email with good seats being offered at much lower prices than the cheap, nosebleed seats I had been eyeing. I also had a couple Ticketmaster vouchers worth a few bucks. In the end, I think this is the only time I have ever seen this on my ticket receipt …

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A Concerted Sales Effort

I saw an online notice of tickets still available for sale at our local concert venue. I was very surprised seeing this one. I would have lost a “Dead or Alive?” bet on Paul Anka.

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That’s a lot of cash for a ticket to see an old guy I thought may be deceased. Of course, he may think the same about me. I have doubts some days myself.

I know these guys aren’t dead. I saw them give an excellent free outdoor show a few years back. But now they are just about selling out (just 2 seats left) with tickets for $180 each? What?

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New Music for Old Rockers – Rage Against Age Concert Edition

I’m old. However, somehow I have put together my best concert year ever in 2019, although with some concessions to age. I missed driving 3+ hours to see the Smithereens perform recently at Abe Fest …

Smithereens Springfield

Thank God. Although I love those 80’s/90’s rockers and have wanted to see them for years now, I didn’t want to see them enough to drive to Springfield to freakin’ Abe Fest. Regardless, I waited a bit too long, and their lead vocalist passed away a couple years ago. Enter 80’s power popper Marshall Crenshaw to take over vocal duties. I thought it was an odd combination of upbeat vocals from Crenshaw for brooding Smithereen songs like “Blood and Roses.” I had to find out for myself.

I saw that the Smithereens were playing an outdoor festival gig just outside Chicago last Friday. Would the wife approve of my going? Yes! But under one condition. She didn’t want me to drag her to Skokie to see them. It’s a deal! I was flying solo.

The Smithereens/Crenshaw amalgam looked and sounded great in suburban Chicago …

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New Music for Old Rockers – Special Edition of Best Concert Ever?

The opportunity while on a business trip to see Spoon, Cage the Elephant, and Beck in one concert on their Night Running Tour was too tempting for me to resist. This is arguably the best concert tour of the summer. I paid more than I like to usually pay for my concerts, which is zero. But the opportunity to see 4 excellent acts in one concert was like going to a mini-music festival. That’s right, 4 acts. Wild Belle opened the show. I passed on Wild Belle and took a nap and swim at my La Quinta hotel within walking distance of the concert venue. By the way, La Quinta is Spanish for The Quinta. You’re welcome for the translation.

As I walked to the outdoor venue, I could hear Spoon starting their set. I could have pulled up a chair outside and heard the show for free. This blog feature is about new music, and Spoon was playing their new single “No Bullets Spent” from their Greatest Hits album just released. Ugh. Why do bands insist on adding bad songs to their greatest hit compilations? I refuse to include a link to this sub-standard new Spoon song. Instead, if you are unfamiliar with Spoon, enjoy “The Underdog” which got me hooked on Spooning.

Spoon’s stage was spartan and looked like it was missing a knife and fork.

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I did feel like a bad guy when seeing this made me happy. Continue reading “New Music for Old Rockers – Special Edition of Best Concert Ever?”

New Music for Old Rockers – July Concertpalooza Edition – Part 2

My July Concertpalooza rolls on with another FREE show, the third freebie in a row. I received free concert tickets from the world’s greatest radio station, 93.1 WXRT in Chicago, to see Heart and Sheryl Crow play Chicago this past week. Neither act is very musically-relevant anymore except in a historical context (Heart definitely being rock ground-breakers as the first hugely successful female-fronted band), but both acts are still making new music, hence this tour.

But before Sheryl Crow took the stage, there was a young opening act. I think she started playing right before we parked the car, and then finished before we took our seats. It was a very long walk from where we parked.

Ours were decent $69 seats (thanks ‘XRT!), but we did have to sit a couple rows behind the guy who likes Five Finger Death Punch AND Heart. That’s quite a range of musical tastes. Crow1

His wife had sunglasses on the whole show, even after dark, and looked a lot like one of the party-goers in this pic from the Rocky Horror Picture Show …

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New Music for Old Rockers – July Concertpalooza Edition – Part 1

In my quest to make this my best concert year ever, the month of July will play a key role. I am scheduled to attend 4 concerts this month, and the first 2 are in the books, no thanks to the Democratic National Committee. I had planned on seeing husband & wife duo Flora Cash at a free Millennium Park concert in Chicago.

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They look exciting. However, the Flora Cash show directly conflicted with the second Democratic candidate debate. Thanks, Obama. Well, that’s probably okay as Flora Cash tends to be a bit mellow. I mean, her eyes are closed in the pic. Some would say a bit too subdued on this popular track of theirs … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVdPh2cBTN0. I wouldn’t want to fall asleep in the park and miss my train home.

My oldest son suggested Car Seat Headrest in the same park this past week. Although I had no idea who Car Seat Headrest is, I couldn’t refuse a free concert with my son in the beautiful Jay Pritzker Pavillion on Chicago’s glorious lakefront on a beautiful night.

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Now, who is Car Seat Headrest you ask?

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New Music for Old Rockers – Concert Preview Decision Edition

There has been lots of good new music recently, getting me ready for my planned summer concerts. Here’s a look at recent releases as I try and catch up a bit.

This first song is actually an old song sporting a new piano arrangement, and features a duet with a dead legend.

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New Music for Old Rockers – Foals Concert Edition

I like the UK band Foals, and I love this song of theirs …

But that is not new music. That is a song from their excellent 2015 release called “What Went Down.” Foals happened to be in concert in St. Louis this week when I happened to be visiting for business, or perhaps it was that I planned a business trip to St. Louis when Foals was in concert. You see, if I try to see them in Chicago, this is what happens …

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Concert Concerns

Lollapalooza is one of the great annual music festivals in the world, taking place over 4 days on Chicago’s beautiful lakefront over the summer. Lolla Tip: Don’t wear flip-flops. It can get swampy even if it is not raining at that specific time.

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That may not be all rainwater. And if it does rain, well then, just go with the flow …

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New Music for Old Rockers – Special Mt. Joy Concert Edition

The odds were against it happening. I was in my hotel room after dinner, slightly undressed (I know, ew), laying in bed, with Rachel Maddow coming on TV in minutes. There was maybe a 2% chance that I would get dressed and go by myself to see indie rockers Mt. Joy in concert. I know, you will not believe it if I tell you I beat the odds, but I did. I have proof.

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