Category Archives: concerts

The sky was dry but it rained the blues


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.
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

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…


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

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


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.


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

The ABCs of DMB

photo(132)Last weekend I took my 14 y/o to SPAC to see the Dave Matthews Band.  Being the glutton I am, we went both cruelly cold nights.  These were his 2nd and 3rd DMB shows respectively, but his prior show had been at the Times Union Center, a much different experience than a venue like SPAC.

I’ve seriously lost count of the number of Dave shows I’ve been to, and I’m done apologizing for the fact that I’ve enjoyed all of them.  There’s something almost combustible though about combining the letters SPAC and DMB which has made me hesitant to bring Griffin to this nearly annual show in the past.  Maybe it’s my memories of watching the security force being completely overwhelmed by fence jumpers at the extreme back of the lawn.  Or it could be the recollection of a bunch of entitled jerks rushing the amphitheater despite their lack of appropriate tickets.  Either way, until this year it wasn’t an option for me – or Griffin.

Now that he’s a strapping tall (5’10″!) nearly high school student, I decided that a show perfumed with marijuana and patchouli was in order.  Better that he be exposed to these things with a parent, right?  I think it was the right call, too.  He didn’t seem overly phased by the odd frat boy asking to touch his hair, nor did the completely passed out, hefty looking guy freak him out, despite the fact that he was being carried by medics.  Whether he uttered them out loud or simply used his eyes to express his curiosity, he did have some questions, though.  To help him out, I’ll attempt to break it down in a couple of letters…

Attire – Don’t be an idiot, wear clothing which is appropriate for the venue and the weather.  It really only takes a moment to fire up that app on your smart phone to see what the weather folks have predicted and dress accordingly.  Yes, I know meteorologists are often wrong, but they can usually come pretty close on temperature and when they say 45 degrees and wet, flip-flops and Daisy Dukes might not be your best choices.  Speaking of choices, Griffin has been strongly advised to choose to never bring one of those ill-dressed girls home to meet his ‘rents.  He can do better than that.

Behavior – Between his Dad and myself, we’ve probably taken in a few hundred concerts and we’ve had our share of less than perfect public behavior, but I can say that we’ve never been arrested for our actions.  Witnessing that girl on Sunday being taken by security away from her friends and led to some mysterious place beyond the back fence, made me uncomfortable and hopefully made an equally alarming impression upon my boy.  Don’t be an ass, try to be respectful and always stick together with your friends.  Unless, of course, they’re being disrespectful asses.  In that case, call your parents.

Consumption – We saw a number of people who were falling down drunk or stoned or something.  They did not look cool, in fact, they looked kind of sad and scary.  I don’t have enough fingers to add up the number of times I said to Griffin, “you don’t want to be that guy.”  It isn’t a matter of having a good time when you are staggering around and nearly landing on innocent bystanders – not for those who witness it, nor for you or your liver.  Get a grip, moderate yourself and try to be in a position to remember the show that you just took in.

Rock on.


Filed under Boys, concerts, Events, Music, SPAC

Amy, Aimee

photo(118)Maybe 10 or 12 years ago, my friend Amy turned me on to Aimee Mann.  I don’t recall exactly how it happened, but it involved a show at The Egg and an extra ticket.  I don’t think I had any familiarity with Aimee Mann’s music beyond her ‘Til Tuesday stuff, but she hit me big.  There was something appealing about her soft voice and her hard to take lyrics that I found powerful and moving.  In the Egg’s lobby, immediately after the show, I bought two of her cds.  A fan was born.

Through the years, I’ve listened to Aimee Mann with an enthusiasm which bordered upon obsession.  When I was feeling positive about life, she made me appreciate my happiness. During the more emotionally challenging times, I knew that Aimee Mann understood my struggles and she kept me looking ahead.  Her music is penetrating and she has written moody music for movies (Magnolia soundtrack) and revisited childhood classics with her contributions to the I Am Sam soundtrack and her cover of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I caught her show a few years ago in Washington Park, a venue that didn’t necessarily suit her, in my opinion.  Thursday night, on the invitation of two dear friends, I headed down to Hudson’s Club Helsinki to check her out again.  The gorgeous space that is Helsinki, perfectly matched the intimacy of Mann’s music and she and her band put on a terrific show. Opening act and collaborator, Ted Leo, seemingly the result of some sort of merging of Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, was a bit weak as a solo act, yet he shined when he shared the stage with Aimee.  She was funny as hell – self-deprecating and quick-witted in the same way  her lyrics tend to be.  Her observations, along with her black-framed glasses, were sharp and defining and it was a memorable show.

Although I failed at capturing a photo of she and I together, wearing our strikingly similar outfits of short shorts and nerdy eyewear, the night overall was perfect in every way.

Thank you, Amy.
Thank you, Aimee.

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