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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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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New Music for Old Rockers – Kurt Vile Edition

I have a decision to make. Not about this Kurt Vile song called Loading Zones. No decision here. It’s great. Enjoy.

I find the guitar work to be sanguine, enchanting, and utterly beguiling. Vile’s vocals are smooth as usual, but I really like the chanted refrain of ‘I park for free’ adding some punch and edge to the song. It reminds me of days gone bye when I would drive around for 30 minutes looking for a parking spot in Chicago because … I park for free! Times have changed. I use Spot Hero now and pay for convenient parking. Call me a sell out. I’ll own it.

Kurt Vile has been around the music biz for a while, and has garnered a following, but not much airplay outside of Pretty Pimpin’ from a few years back. Loading Zones has put Vile back in the spotlight with what I consider to be a far superior song to a very good tune in Pretty Pimpin’. If you like the Vile sound and want to listen to a concert by Kurt Vile & The Violators (just a great band name), check out this 50 minute video concert.

My upcoming decision does concern Kurt Vile. My two oldest kids cast their votes for Kurt Vile. I’m torn. I’ll explain.

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The Day the Music Died – Part 2, Sunday

Despite missing out on concert nirvana on Saturday, I awoke Sunday morning knowing that I would be at a concert that night, for free, accompanied by my lovely wife and complaining 10 year old daughter. When we dragged our youngest to a Cheap Trick concert, the only part she enjoyed was the raccoon working the trash can.

 

I knew that traffic would be negligible and parking would be free since the show would be in our local concert hall. I had received the good news on Saturday.

Rising Tix

Now what the heck is The Rising? It sounds a bit like a Stephen King movie.

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The Day the Music Died – Part 1, Saturday

There is a line in Don McLean’s song, American Pie, about “the day the music died.” For me, it should have been “the days the music died” which perfectly described this past weekend for me. My 2018 concert summer experience was just showing signs of life with September concerts by Cheap Trick and Rare Earth. This past Saturday, I had a chance to make 2018 a memorable concert summer.

Chicago is a city chock full o’ of summer music festivals, and Riot Fest came to town this past weekend. No, it is not a celebration of the 1968 Democratic National Convention held in Chicago between riots. It’s an incredible 3-day music festival. I could have seen Weezer headline Friday night, and I thought it would be cool on Sunday to see Debbie Harry bring Blondie to Riot Fest to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of their great album Parallel Lines. But I couldn’t believe the line-up of artists I could see on Saturday. I could spend about 7 hours there in music heaven wandering from stage to stage to see favorites. Take a look at this line-up …

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I Just Want to Celebrate a Rare Earth Occurrence

While not quite as dramatic as Lazarus being raised from the dead, my 2018 summer concert experience twitched imperceptibly and showed a faint pulse this past weekend after I left it for dead in this blog post. Why did I end the post with a tease like I did? Did I know that Rare Earth defibrillator paddles would jolt my 2018 summer concert experience back from the dead?

By Rare Earth, I am not referring to a rare earth element like the 15 lanthanides, or even perhaps scandium or yttrium. I am referring to this Rare Earth …

Rare Earth

However, I think the really hairy dude in the center is named Joe Scandium. Regardless, I am talking about the band Rare Earth that opened up the California Jam music festival in 1974 in front of 300,000 people …

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My Pathetic Musicless Summer Ends

There is no discussion about whether my 2018 summer concert experience sucked or not. It did. I could see it coming for a variety of reasons that I don’t have the time, space, or desire to explain here. My 2018 summer music experience consisted of 3 consecutive nights of music detailed in this blog post and this one. Pretty sad since I live close enough to Chicago to attend the Lollapalooza and Pitchfork music festivals, and Summerfest in Milwaukee is just a couple hour drive away.

But that was where my 2018 concert experience was at when we got an invite from neighbors to see Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick over the Labor Day weekend at Naperville’s Last Fling Festival. The invitation came as a complete surprise since most people make it a point to spend less time rather than more time with me. I had always wanted to see Cheap Trick, so I didn’t mention their invitation error as we accepted and made plans.

By the day of the concert, our Chicago area weather had turned from warm, still days of summer to the unpredictability of fall. Hot and sunny one minute. Cool and wet the next. The day of the concert was just such a day. Storms were predicted that hot and muggy night after the concert should be over, but it was already sprinkling as we backed out of the driveway on our way to the show. Sigh! But on we went. I regretted not accepting our neighbor’s offer to buy the tickets for us just in case it got rained out. I was in an Eeyore mood and just not looking forward to parking a half mile away, sitting on a blanket in a wet, grassy area and getting drenched.

After parking, we walked towards the music, and I asked one of the festival people in a courtesy cart for the most direct way to an entrance. We were invited to hop aboard for a ride over. I asked her if we looked so old that we needed a ride. She politely didn’t really answer my question, but she told me that if I wanted to see old, just wait until we see Cheap Trick.

And speaking of looking old, as I waited in line with my ID in hand to get a wristband so I could buy overpriced beer, I noticed that IDs were being carefully checked. I extended my hand holding my ID, and a band was immediately attached to my wrist, ID unchecked. After that, I knew I was ready to give Cheap Trick a run for their money when it came to looking old.

As we waited for Cheap Trick, we sat through an opening act called Lucky Boys Confusion. I took a pic of them onstage for this blog post because the dark storm clouds were rapidly heading our way.

Cheap Trick Lucky Boys

I figured if I posted a blurry pic, I could pass them off as Cheap Trick in this blog in case of a rainout. But I didn’t need to engage in any blog trickery. Before we knew it, Lucky Boys Confusion had finished their entertaining set, and the stage was being readied for Cheap Trick. But before that, we were treated to a show by an artist known to some as The Trash Panda. Pics follow.

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A Concerted Effort

Little did I know 3 days ago that after a summer of zero concerts, I would have 3 under my belt in 3 days. I already regaled you with tales of seeing the legendary Dave Mason, albeit briefly, in concert. Feel free to pass the story, soon to be legend, down to your grandchildren. With no budget for concert tix left in 2018, who could I possibly see perform for free?

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My Concert Season is Complete

We don’t get out much. 5 kids here if I haven’t mentioned it before. We always thought the older kids would take care of the younger kids and my wife and I would continue to have an active social life. That never worked out too well. When my oldest daughter (child #1) took care of kids 3 & 4, my youngest son (child #3) would routinely reduce her to tears. My middle daughter (child #4) is all grown up and would gladly watch our 9 year old daughter (child #5), but oops, she’s off to college, sorry. And so we rely on babysitters, which is not only expensive, but these days it is difficult to find a teen around here that isn’t busy on the weekends with an active social life that dwarfs ours. It can be an expensive chore to find a babysitter.

But this was a concert opportunity not to be missed. Seeing this concert would make my 2017 concert season complete. I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn’t take this opportunity to see …

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Once again, my family saved me from being a big, pathetic loser

I should revise that title to “Once again, my family saved me from appearing to be a big, pathetic loser.” I don’t want to underestimate my ability to actually be a big, pathetic loser, but at least last night I did not appear to be one thanks to my family.

I had planned to see another concert last night.

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When is a Yes Just a Maybe?

No, this post is not about a serious subject like sexual assault. It’s another concert review. I attended the Yestival last night.

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Am I a Yesticle if I attended the Yestival? I don’t know about a “full festival experience” per the pic, because I didn’t see much of the concert behind the 6 foot high privacy fence.

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Don’t Seek The Music; Be The Music

Let me just start out by saying that the title of this blog makes no sense except that this post is about music and my quest to become one with music. You will only find out at the very end if I reached that lofty goal. I workshopped many alternate blog post titles, and they all sucked as much as this one, so what’s the point of even trying? It’s good enough (maybe too good?) for the likes of us.

Moving on, this is my longest blog post ever, and perhaps the longest ever in the history of blogging. I have no interest in checking, so let’s just take my vague hunch as gospel truth that this is a record-setting post. It is chock full of nonsensical words in a seemingly random order that would rival a Sean Spicer press conference, links to older posts (in a pathetic attempt to increase views), pictures, animated gifs and video links. If you are not up for a herculean, visually-stimulating blog post, bail out now. Warning, do not click the “Continue reading.”

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C and D List Musicians on High Alert

It appears that Team Trump can’t entice any musicians to perform at Trump’s inauguration concert. Now I am sure that strong Trump supporters Kid Rock and Ted Nugent could be talked into performing, but even Team Trump may be wary about rolling out those maniacs that are a few notes short of a treble clef.

Scott Baio is a strong Trump supporter and did cut a self-titled album …

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Hey, how about a smile Scott? Your guy won, kinda’. Maybe he’s sad about getting the same cold shoulder treatment as Giuliani, Gingrich & Christie, oh my. Best he has been offered is a junior administrative position at the Rwandan Embassy. Please take it Scott.

Baio’s follow-up album may generate a little more interest from the Trump camp …

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