Saturday night, a friend and I drove up 787 to check out a guitar player he admires. It was a miserable night, but I was excited to see a live performance and I had never been to this particular venue before. You know me, always up for a new experience.
I don’t remember the last time I went to Cohoes, but I imagine it has to have been at least 5 or 6 years ago. The area surrounding the music hall is one that I am not familiar with, but it seems to have experienced numerous up and down cycles. Typical for a small city, I imagine. We struggled a little bit to find a parking space, but were able to park a couple of short blocks away and fortunately the rain had temporarily relented.
From the exterior, the Cohoes Music Hall doesn’t tip its hand in any way to reveal that it is a performance venue. Even after stepping inside, there was no indication of where to go to access our seats. The stairs up were our only option, so we took them eventually arriving in a lobby of sorts. There was a coatroom, bathrooms and a concession stand, but it was all kind of oddly situated. I’m all about vintage theaters, but this one just felt a little awkward and not particularly aesthetically pleasing.
We made our way, with the assistance of an usher, to our seats. The lights were still up and we were directed to “our bar” where there were quality options at premium prices. We passed on drinks and settled into our comfortable seats and I began to look around.
It is definitely a cool venue with decorative ceilings, curved banquet seating and an old fashioned charm, but…
There was a distinct air of neglect to the space with the ceiling art faded and the velveteen upholstery shiny with wear. The state of the room made it feel and look like the step-sister of Albany’s Palace or Schenectady’s Proctor’s. It made me wonder who the theater had originally been constructed to serve and what had happened to those people. Would they ever have been able to imagine the run down condition of what once must have been an elegant performance room?
Eric Johnson was well worth seeing (he plays that guitar with his entire hand), but I left Cohoes wishing we, as a community, could better support this venue. I didn’t expect to get the blues more from the venue than from the actual performance.
Music is an amazing thing – it soothes, excites, inspires, comforts, stimulates and impresses me more than any other art form. There are songs that take me back to specific moments in my life like no other time machine I’ve ever known and guitar solos that still make me shake my head with wonder. Below I’ve shared 50 of my favorites that will always be on my personal playlist, be it for the tune, the time they recapture or the story the words tell. Each and every one of these songs means something to me and made it onto this list after more thought and consideration than I ‘d like to admit. How about you? What’s your life soundtrack sound like?
1. Is That All There Is? – Peggy Lee
2. Ain’t But One Way Out – Allman Brothers
3. Ain’t Wasting Time No More – Allman Brothers
4. Second Hand News – Fleetwood Mac
5. Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
6. The Chain – Fleetwood Mac
7. You Make Loving Fun – Fleetwood Mac
8. Oh Daddy – Fleetwood Mac
9. Gold Dust Woman – Fleetwood Mac
10. Where the Streets Have No Name – U2
11. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2
12. With or Without You – U2
13. Running to Stand Still – U2
14. In God’s Country – U2
15. Save Me – Aimee Mann
16. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
17. Inner City Blues – Marvin Gaye
18. Trouble Man – Marvin Gaye
19. Hold On – Alabama Shakes
20. Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
21. Voodoo Child – Jimi Hendrix
22. If 6 Was 9 – Jimi Hendrix
23. A Sunday Kind of Love – Etta James
24. At Last – Etta James
25. I’m on Fire – Bruce Springsteen
26. American Girl – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
27. Steady as She Goes – The Raconteurs
28. Lover, You Should’ve Come Over – Jeff Buckley
29. Just a Little Lovin’ – Shelby Lynne
30. Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
31. Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked – Cage the Elephant
32. Can’t Find My Way Home – Blind Faith
33. Breakdown – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
34. Lover Lay Down – DMB
35. So Much to Say – DMB
36. Gravity – John Mayer
37. What’d I say, Pt 1 & 2 – Ray Charles
38. The Way We Were – Barbra Streisand
39. Girl on Fire – Alicia Keyes
40. Young Americans – David Bowie
41. Justify My Love – Madonna
42. A Moment Changes Everything – David Gray
43. Thing of Beauty – Hothouse Flowers
44. Nobody’s Fault But Mine – Led Zeppelin
45. Changed the Locks – Lucinda Williams
46. I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons
47. Heart of Gold – Neil Young
48. Just Breathe – Pearl Jam
49. Let’s Go Crazy – Prince
50. Waiting on a Friend – Rolling Stones
If we’ve seen each other in the past week or two, you know exactly where this is going… I am currently obsessed with the Allman Brothers. Like, really, really obsessed. First, some history – I’m lucky enough to have seen the band in its various incarnations, probably a half dozen times, mostly at SPAC. I’ve always had a great time at their shows, but never really considered myself a huge fan of the band. Until I read Gregg Allman’s 2012 autobiography, that is.
Yep, it started with a book. I’ve read a lot of rockstar autobiographies over the years, and My Cross to Bear ranks pretty damn high on my list of best rock and roll life stories. It’s kind of weird because I was so excited a few years ago to read Keith Richards’ book and pretty much hated it. A similar thing happened when I attempted to read Neil Young’s book. Ugh, I thought it sucked. I never finished either of them, for the record.
This book, though? It was hard to put down. The opening pages describe the state of absolute intoxication Gregg was drowning in during the band’s induction ceremony at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and I was immediately sucked in. This is what I want to read about when I’m learning about a musician’s life – sex, drugs and rock and roll. I don’t want to know about Neil Young’s obsession with trains and cars. I’m not interested. Tell me more about opening up for the friggin Doors on your first trip to Cali, Gregg. I’m all about that!
The book is a super fast read, filled with anecdotes, struggles, shows and wisdom that can only come from life experience. So, if you see me and I feel compelled to share a tidbit or two about what I learned about the Allman Brothers, bear with me. I’m sure I’ll move on soon enough, but until then, I’ll be cranking At Fillmore East. You should, too.
Having a good guide book when you visit a new city is generally not a bad idea if you’re looking to become familiar with where to eat or shop. Making friends with a bartender or two, though, is an even better idea if you’re interested in hanging out where the locals do. Case in point – the excellent tip we received from Kenneth at Husk about where the cool kids go on Monday nights – East Nashville’s 5 Spot.
Now, we really didn’t know all that much about Nashville when we decided to make it our girls’ getaway destination. We certainly didn’t know anything about East Nashville. Well, it seems that this area east of the Cumberland River is an upcoming neighborhood populated, as we learned from our Uber driver, with hipsters. This isn’t my assessment, just what we learned from the locals, my friends. I have to say, judging from the facial hair, plaid shirts and smart spectacles, it seems a pretty valid conclusion.
We arrived at the 5 Spot somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00, it’s kind of blurry. We anted up $5 a piece and joined the healthy crowd inside, already nodding our heads to the music and the scene. This was not a place for posers – just a whole bunch of people who wanted to have fun and dance. I love a good dive bar and this place has the vibe down – a little gritty, a lot dark with cheap beer and a small back “patio” to escape to when the need to cool down trumps the need to boogie down. If this place was in Albany, I’d make it my home away from home for good, clean fun.
This might be a fine time to note that I DO NOT dance generally. I’m not sure if it was the pre-game shots of Maker’s Mark, the anonymity of being a stranger or just that damn Motown beat, but I couldn’t quit moving on the dance floor. For three roughly mid-century girls, we were spun around with enthusiasm by an array of partners, but there wasn’t any handsy gropping or grinding going on. It was just about the music and dancing without any aggressive, cruisy bullshit. It was ultimately the perfect girls night out. The 5 Spot on Monday night is a game changer when it comes to the Monday blues
Last Friday, we played a Spotify station to celebrate David Bowie’s 69th birthday. Less than three days later, he was dead. I guess that’s how it goes. We never know how long the journey from birth to death is really going to be, do we?
I can’t claim to have been the biggest Bowie fan in the universe, but I always liked his more pop stuff. Songs like “Let’s Dance,” “Young Americans,” and “China Girl” were definitely a part of my younger years and are still able to transport me to those simpler days of being a teenager. Some of his stuff was a little too avante garde for me, like this song which freaked me out as a kid but completely wowed me years later in Inglorious Basterds. I always appreciated his range and talent, though. He was very clearly a deeply gifted artist.
Bowie managed, over a career that lasted for decades, to find his way from being a flamboyant, hyper sexual rock star to living a private life as a musician, actor, husband and father. Does this sort of transition simply occur with age? Was it satisfaction with his personal life? Had he merely grown beyond his previous narcissistic need to share himself with the world in an over exposed fashion? Were his over-the-top antics merely a role he was playing for public consumption? Don’t we all do the same thing, projecting an image to the world outside, on some level?
I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, but it has me thinking about achieving a new balance between my public and personal personas. When I consider the unsatiated hunger for fame that is present in contemporary American society, I find myself feeling uncomfortable. No longer is the goal to achieve success on a personal level. Instead, for far too many, it must be accompanied by public recognition and notoriety. It’s kind of sad in a vulgar way and I think I may need to wrap myself a little tighter in the future than I have in the past.
That being said, in no way do I consider myself to be famous or a rock star. I’m just feeling the urge to create a new balance between living life out loud and ultimately dying, hopefully many years from now, with grace. You see,
Fame makes a (wo)man take things over
Fame, lets him loose, hard to swallow
Fame, puts you there where things are hollow.
Despite having sent out 95 holiday cards, I still feel as if the holidays passed by without nearly enough time for me to make contact with all of the people I had hoped. Shit, I guess I can say the same thing about the entire year. Sometimes I think that TIME is the ultimate 4-letter word.
As I was running yesterday, I started inventorying the year, thinking of places I’ve been, thoughts which have stuck with me and little things which have brought great satisfaction. It was a very full year.
• Taking on the restaurant has been a life changing endeavor. I’m learning so much – about the responsibilities of running a business, how to ask for help when I need it, time management and what my own priorities are.
• Although I am spending less time just hanging out with my guys, it feels like we are actually seeing more of each other. What I mean is, I’m not merely Mom anymore and my sons are no longer just children. We’re each viewing facets of one another that may not have previously been revealed – they’ve become more independent and are developing an understanding about who I am as a business owner and hospitality professional. It’s pretty damn cool.
• I bought a new raincoat, kind of an anorak, prior to my France trip in April that was exactly what I wanted at far less than I expected to pay. That doesn’t happen often.
• The cold doesn’t really bother me, but I need sunshine.
• As far as that France trip goes, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it. Seeing the beaches of Normandy and the sights of Paris with my oldest son was an unforgettable experience.
• Speaking of beaches, our two weeks on Lieutenant’s Island in Wellfeet were memorable in numerous ways. I was so lucky to spend 2 weeks with my favorite fellas, something I don’t expect to be able to do again for quite some time.
• I saw so much great music in 2015! Highlights were Jack White, Robert Plant (2x!), The Black Keys, Alabama Shakes and Government Mule’s amazing Dark Side set. It’s going to be hard for 2016 to rise above that lineup.
• Getting to my hometown, not once but twice, in 2015 was a real treat. Celebrating a 35 year class reunion and an afternoon spent on a paddleboard on the lake were both fun times.
• I ran a half marathon!
• Miraculously enough, I scored the perfect skinny jeans, like the raincoat, they came from Gap. Online shopping has become the norm for me and when I receive an item that actually fits perfectly, it’s kind of like hitting the jackpot.
• I made my way to NYC a few times, mixing it up by traveling with a special friend, my girlfriends and family. It remains my favorite city in the world.
• Closing out 2015 by spending 4 days with my most fun friends in Nashville was the perfect punctuation to a year filled with new experiences, challenges and accomplishments.
• I can’t wait to see where 2016 takes me. Hope you’ll come along for the ride!
Filed under Boys, Cape Cod, concerts, Europe, Events, Exercise, family, France, friends, holidays, Music, Nashville, NYC, Observations, Random, running, travel, vacation
Can you believe it has been 35 years since John Lennon was murdered? It just doesn’t seem possible that so many years have passed since the music world lost one of its most influential artists and many of us lost our innocence. I don’t think I’ll ever forget lying in bed that night and hearing the news on my clock radio – the disbelief and shock that I felt were unfamiliar emotions to me. In an instant the world became a different place.
I have to wonder if John Lennon would have written different lyrics to Imagine if he were writing that song today. I suppose he might have imagined a world without handguns, right? Yeah, me, too.
His hope for a world without religion probably wouldn’t have changed, but maybe he would have expanded upon that thought by wishing that we could live in a world where political candidates didn’t manipulate citizens with fear mongering and religious discrimination.
The rampant consumerism in our society probably would have bummed him out. The ever widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in our world shows that we have only grown more distant from Lennon’s ideal for “sharing all the world.” It seems that oversharing a la tabloids and reality television is what we really do best.
Who ever could have imagined the world in which we now are living? A world where dozens of children have been massacred in their schools because we’re too stupid as a society to prevent bad people from getting weapons? A country in which prospective presidential candidates are encouraging behaviors frighteningly reminiscent of the actions we took decades ago when we perpetrated gross civil liberty injustices against the Japanese, and, in more recent years, blacks and gays.
Unfortunately, I imagine we’re still a very long way from when the world will live as one.