Category Archives: concerts

Mountain (without the) Jam

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Aloysius

Last year’s memories of Mountain Jam are a bit tainted. I’d had a really rough morning, thanks to my middle son, and my early afternoon proved that the day could, in fact, become even worse. As always, my friends pulled me through that day and were once again on hand this year to replace any previous negative associations with laughter – and beer.

Unlike previous years, the weather was spectacular. I think this May have been the first time I attended this show wearing anything other than rain boots. We successfully smuggled some sunscreen in and I do not regret my criminal decision. I would have fried without repeated doses of #30.

Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson

The music was great! Chris Robinson (from the Black Crowes) has a new project and I appreciated their set more than I had enjoyed his band when I saw them last. Sean Lennon performed with his band, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, and while I may not have been familiar with his band, it was really cool watching the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono making music. He’s definitely rocking his father’s look and vibe.

Sean Lennon

Sean Lennon

As far as Michael Franti goes – well, sign me up to be a member of his church. He preaches good vibes, positivity and love and I’m a believer. He is one of the most inspiring and alive performers I have ever seen and this show was awesome. Musical joy. The Allman Brothers played a super set of rock and roll. As always, their songs seemed to have risen up from some dank mud which also happened to have bred the blues and jazz.  While we didn’t stay for their encore, we did hit the road satiated and completely satisfied with our day.

Michael Franti

Michael Franti

A couple of random things -

  • Security was pretty strict and did not permit food or aerosol cans to be brought in.  A bit of a bummer for those on a budget or who had packed cans of sunscreen.
  • I ate a delicious bratwurst sandwich, with everything, thank you very much.  And an ice  cream sundae!  Beers were reasonably priced ($6 for decent drafts) and a full bar within the lodge was also available.
  • Offered as continued evidence that it is indeed a small world, I ran into not one but, two, guys I knew from when I was married.  I hadn’t seen either in years and it was more pleasant than awkward.

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Filed under Aloysius, beer, concerts, friends, Music, road trips, upstate New York

Two Step while trying not to step in anything disgusting

628x471For the second year in a row my middle son and I went to both nights of the Dave Matthews Band’s pretty much annual stop at SPAC.  As always, Carter smiled continuously as he banged the drums and Dave praised the crowd and venue.  We had a good time and I got some great crowd photos in the parking lots prior to the shows.  We ran into some people we knew and even made some new friends.  It was fun and I imagine we’ll do it again next time the band is in town.  By then, I hope to have erased some of the less pleasant parts of this year’s shows.

I haven’t kept track of how many times I’ve seen DMB, but seeing that it was Griffin’s 6th show, I imagine I’ve got somewhere between 12-15 shows under my belt.  I grew up taking the bus into the city for shows at the Garden and consider myself a concert veteran, but there’s always something new to see, right?  Take that man’s penis, for instance.  What a shocker that was!  I can say with complete honesty that I’ve never before stood in line next to someone who was pissing into a red solo cup – and I hope to never repeat that experience.  The close up of a stranger’s not so privates may have been a blessing in disguise because when that woman on the lawn threw her skirt up and prepared to pull her underwear down to pee on the lawn in front of everyone, it wasn’t that traumatic for me.

Now, urine aside, the only other bodily fluid which made an appearance was vomit.  Fortunately, I missed seeing that (re)enter the world, but I became aware of it after someone near me on the lawn stepped in it.  Situations like this completely validate my decision to always wear closed shoes, often rain boots, at outdoor concerts.

Now – the good stuff!  We met some awesomely friendly people while taking photos, including two adorable hula hooping pixies who were so pleased with the photo I took Friday that they sought me out on Saturday to reward me with a hug.  Sweet!  I also ran into one of my favorite parents from school and finally met her collaborator in creating 4 fabulous kids.  That kind of made my night.

As far as the music goes, the set lists were epic and I’m so glad we went both nights because we heard nearly every song we had hoped to hear.  The transitions between songs was flawless and the flute solos provided a fresher sound than the sometimes (to me) tedious violin solos.  Highlights were #41, the acoustic What Would You Say, and pretty much the entire second set on Saturday night.

Towards the end of Saturday night I looked around at the crowd and concluded that pretty much everyone would end the night by either fighting, having sex or falling asleep.  Me?  I slept well.

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Filed under concerts, Music, Observations, Saratoga, SEEN, SPAC, upstate New York

The sky was dry but it rained the blues

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Missed my camera – big time!

I did it.  After 25 years of living in Albany, I finally made it up to SPAC to take in some of the Freihofer’s Jazz Fest this weekend.  Wow!  So, that’s what it’s like to be treated like an adult at an event at SPAC.  Bravo!

I promise this isn’t going to be an anti-Live Nation rant, but, I have to acknowledge how much more pleasant an experience this concert was than the typical rock show at SPAC.  I mean, for Pete’s sake, they were giving away cookies.  When was the last time Live Nation gave you anything other than a firm pat down?  The bottled water was literally half the price we paid a week prior at the Tom Petty show and the beers were similarly discounted.  I think premium drafts were $6.50.

We were freely allowed to bring in snacks and beverages of our own choosing and cameras were also permitted without the ridiculous stipulation a la Live Nation, that those with removable lenses are not allowed.  I left my Nikon at home, fearing rain, but took about a million mental pictures of the beautifully diverse crowd doing their thing with tarps, blankets, martini glasses and elaborate food preparations.

We drove through a deluge in Albany to arrive at a miraculously and vaguely sunny venue .  Apparently Saratoga had a mere drizzle and we guaranteed that things would remain dry by remembering to bring our umbrellas through the Charlie gate. We snagged a spot on the lawn, enjoying the sounds of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and relaxing into the peaceful Sunday afternoon vibe.

The legendary Tony Bennett, at the ripe old age of 86(!), put on an unforgettably lovely show.  Seeing him was a once in a lifetime opportunity and he impressed me with the strength of voice, his physical appearance and the tremendous class he exuded.  They don’t make them like that anymore!  It was a true thrill to be in the audience while he performed.

Buddy Guy closed the show in a downpour of soulful blues and thunderous guitar licks.  Holy crap – that man is 76 years-old and he smoked it.  There was no calling it in – he simply killed it.  The songs he chose to play highlighted the family tree of guitar players with which any modern music lover is familiar – Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, each of whom made virtual appearances on the stage.

Among all the veteran musicians playing, there was also a beacon of the future present.  Fourteen-year-old Quinn Sullivan, of New Bedford, MA, ripped it up playing along side of the masterful Guy.  His playing reminded me of Clapton, but his stage presence was all Derek Trucks.  The future looks bright.

The biggest thrill of the night for me was when the remarkably nimble Buddy Guy came down into the audience and I anticipated where he would ultimately end up – right in front of me.  Like, I could have touched him if I was one of those people who invades the personal space of someone.  I was giddy.  Great show, great company, great night.

Those taut arms, way up high on the right?  Yep, mine!

Those taut arms, way up high on the right? Yep, mine!

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Filed under concerts, Events, Music, Saratoga, SPAC, Summer

Don’t do me like that

Sunday evening I trucked it up to Saratoga to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  Believe me, the drive did not compare to the time a group of us traveled via bus and maybe (?) train from groovy Greenwood Lake to the Nassau Coliseum to see the very same band.  Yep, I’m an old school TP fan and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for these guys since they were my first arena rock and roll show – 1981, Brendan Byrne Arena.

As always, the band played with heart and humor.  Tom Petty made just the right amount of anecdotal commentary with the crowd and played a great mix of old and new(er) tunes.  As expected, he closed with American Girl, a song which remains a favorite of mine despite the whole Silence of the Lambs connection.  His lyrics aren’t often cited as poetic, but he does have a plain directness in speaking which manages to convey emotions pretty effectively.  It was a fun show and my date, who coincidentally (or fatefully?!?) had attended a show from that very same 1981 tour, was the perfect partner for the night’s adventure, an adventure which ultimately ended at the Schenectady County Airport with some gawking at Tom Petty’s private jet.
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Sounds like an awesome night, yes?  Well, let me share a couple of my complaints with you…

The ticket prices were outrageous. $50 for a lawn seat is pretty damn obscene when you’re spending your night breathing in secondhand tobacco smoke and dodging drunks who are literally falling down.  It seems there’s no benefit in pricing the tickets high, assuming that’s an effort to keep the riffraff out.  Maybe not over-serving the crowd would be a good idea?  It is rather remarkable that folks manage to get so totally inebriated when beers are priced between $9-12 each.  I suppose one might as well drink alcohol because paying $4.50 for a 20 oz bottle of Dasani water is no bargain.  If you get drunk enough, you would have a hope of forgetting where all your hard-earned money went, I guess.  I realize that my first concert was a long time ago, but the price of tickets and refreshments (don’t get me started on the merch!) certainly seems out of whack with the general state of inflation.

Come on, SPAC/Live Nation give me a break – otherwise you won’t be seeing this face in the crowd.

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Filed under aging, beer, concerts, Events, Music, Rant, SEEN, SPAC, Summer

Catching up with Moms@Work

image:timesunion.com

image:timesunion.com

Griffin and I went to a concert.

I anticipated summer and clarified my economic reality with a comment.

And discussed the economic reality of American women, in general.

An imagined dream come true.

There’s an upcoming event you should think about attending.

I had a really, really bad day.

Dads had their day.

And Sally Ride escaped the atmosphere, but didn’t quite get out of the closet.

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Filed under Boys, concerts, Events, family, Moms@Work, Music, News, NYC, Observations, relationships, Uncategorized

4, 3, 2…

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The “jam” in Mountain Jam must be code
for mud, right?

Four of us attended Mountain Jam for what was consecutive year number three and I learned two very important things… the first had something to do with knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything will be fine because your oldest friends always have your back.  The second was equally practical but involved mud, and boots that no longer kept the mud out.  The ultimate message was the friends are for forever and the boots can be replaced.  End of story.photo(134)

One last thing – the crowd at this event was fantastic – peaceful, friendly, fun and colorful as hell.  Getting these shots was a joy!

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Filed under concerts, Events, favorites, friends, Music, road trips, SEEN, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Impressions from a spring concert

photo(133)Last night’s concert at my son’s middle school made an unexpected impact upon me emotionally. I’m not usually inclined to tears, but this gathering of kids, led by their obviously committed teachers, left me absolutely weepy. Here are the thoughts I had while sitting in that auditorium…

…there was a boy with a cast on his arm nevertheless playing saxophone.  During the presentation of the 8th grade participants,* a-soon-to-be graduate was introduced and described as having run in the rain to be present at his final Middle School performance. Each ensemble which took the stage was a remarkable variety of tall and short, dark and light, with every shade of skin, and texture of hair, imaginable.  Feet tapping, bodies swaying, heads nodding, everyone unified by the music they were making together. Beautiful.

I am so glad that my children attend a school where these opportunities are offered and valued.  The fact that this school is filled with a population often described euphemistically as “urban,” adds a richness to the experience for each and every student there.  These are kids that have interests and passions and talents, all of which are being fostered by the Albany City School District, and witnessed by their families.  It was a great evening and everyone involved should be proud.

*My son was introduced as the “one and only Griffin Lilly.” Never have I been more proud.

Follow up to Destination Lame:
I phoned the principal early this week and expressed my concerns about the trip.  She and I didn’t speak directly, it was more a game of phone tag and a series of voicemails, but I am satisfied with her response to my issues.  The trip, as presented to parents, is a bit different from the trip originally approved by administration.  The principal will be addressing the changes to the original itinerary and modifying the trip to add more structure and formal activities, as time and budget allow.  I was impressed with her immediate response and serious consideration of my concerns.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, concerts, Education, Events, family, Music, Schools, Spring