Sunday, February 1, 2015

My Limited, and Somewhat Eclectic, History of Concert Going

I may not have attended as many concerts/shows throughout my life as some of the more musically-minded amongst my friends and acquaintances, but I still had a good time at the ones I did attend. This here post is a look at those concerts/shows, in relatively chronological order. With that said, let's get started. Oh, and about that Dylan poster to the right...we'll get to that one a bit later. Now on with the show.

So let's get started. And let's get started waaaay back at the beginning. That said beginning would be 1972, when I was but a wee bairn of five. The venue was a place called the York Fair, a country bumpkin-esque county fair, not far from my birthplace, and the act in question was a duo known as Sonny & Cher. That's right, bitches. Sonny and Motherfuckin' Cher. Now granted, due to my young age at the time, I probably remember this show more because of my parents telling me about it later on, than any actual memory, but hey, I saw Sonny & Cher dammit! Back in these oh so early days of life, I also got to see The Osmonds (you know, Alan, Jay, Merrill, Wayne, and even Donny), and the country group, Alabama (more than once). I only barely remember The Osmond boys (not even sure if Jimmy was there with them) and I totally forgot all about Alabama, until my mother reminded me when I asked her about my childhood concerts. I still don't remember seeing them (I was only really into country music for like one Summer back in the day) but my mom says I did, and you can't argue with your mother. So there ya have my childhood concert going, now let's move onto my teen years. But first, here's a pic of that aforementioned Sonny & Cher.

In the early 1980's, after my short bout with country music, I went back to my more pop and rock oriented roots. I did grow up on listening to Beatles on vinyl, after all. My music of choice back in these days revolved around the New Wave and Post Punk movements. You know, like Blondie, Adam Ant, New Order, Devo, Elvis Costello, and such acts. But alas, I never actually saw any of these acts in concert, but I did see a one hit wonder-ish band called The Fixx. It was early 1984, when I was 16, and it was at an all age show at a local club called the Villa Leo. They did that song, One Thing Leads to Another. If you were alive and around in 1983-84, and didn't blink, you may have heard it. But these guys weren't the only musical act that I saw back in my high school days. Harrisburg Pa has, on occasion, been known for its local music scene. Perhaps not up there with places like Seattle or Austin, but still, known a bit for the local music scene. The big act of the early 1980's was a band called The Sharks. The Sharks actually won MTV's Basement Tapes Competition by the largest margin ever, and were thusly, and quite promptly, screwed over by the record company. But hey, from 1982 through 1987, they were a big deal in Central Pennsylvania, and I personally saw them about twenty or so times. The biggest show was in 1986, after they made it big for the few months before Elektra screwed them, when they opened for Kix. Yeah, Kix. It was on City Island, a Harrisburg venue that stopped playing concerts after folks along the riverside complained too much. Don't remember Kix? They were a glam metal band from Maryland. They had a minor hit with Don't Close Your Eyes, in 1989. Otherwise, yeah, you've probably never heard of them. But these local acts are not my only concert going during my teen years. There was also one rather huge concert I attended in 1984.

You might have heard of the guy. His name is Michael Jackson. Yeah, that's right, back in 1984, my aunt and uncle took me to see Michael Jackson, along with brothers, during their Victory Tour. The show was at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, and I'm pretty sure I wore one of my Michael Jackson jackets to the show. Yeah, I had two of 'em, and the glove too. have I mentioned that I've always been a nerd of some sort. Yup. Anyhoo, I got to see The Jacksons (Tito, Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon, Randy, and of course, Michael), so there! But hey, I went to shows as an adult too, so let's talk about a few of those. The year was 1986, the Fall, if I'm not mistaken, and some friends (including my ex) and I drove to Philadelphia to see Bon Jovi, with special guest Cinderella. And yes, I do believe Bon Jovi rocked all the faces he saw there that night. Oh, but speaking of my early post-high school days, I did see another few bands at a thing called Jubilee Day. It is a festival held every June in a small town called Mechanicsburg Pa, just around the corner from where I grew up. Supposedly, Mechanicsburg's Jubilee Day, which began in 1923, is the oldest single day street festival still going on in the United Sates. Anyhoo, this oldest street festival, which at certain times of the day can be wall to wall people, has bands and such play. I've seen the aforementioned Sharks there, at least once, perhaps twice. I also had the opportunity to see both The Hooters (All You Zombies, Day by Day, And We Danced) and John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band (On the Dark Side, Tough All Over). 4 Non-Blondes were supposed to play there one year as well, but they had to cancel at the last minute due to illness. The bitches. Seriously, what's goin' on? Ha! But I digress.

So, at this point in our story, we are heading into the 1990's, and my early to mid twenties. The first act in this time period would be my biggest concert yet - and yes, even bigger than Michael Jackson (sorry MJ fans). The year was 1990, the place was the old Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia, and the musical act in question was Sir Paul McCartney. This would be the first and only Beatle I have ever seen in concert, though, I suppose I could still see Ringo some day. It was a fan-freaking-tastic show, indeed! I mean, this was a guy I had grown up on. Thanks to my mom and aunt being some of the original British Invasion fans, I grew up listening to The Beatles - and on vinyl too! Now here I was, 23 years old, and seeing one of the Fab Four, in concert. Pretty spec-freaking-tacular, indeed! But enough about Sir Paul. Just a couple of years later (1992ish, to be exact...ish) I would find myself back in Philadelphia (in the old Spectrum this time) to see one of my fave bands of the 1980's, The Cure. I went with a bunch of like-minded Cure fan friends. A band called Cock Robin (does anyone remember them?) opened for them. So anyway, we traveled the two hours to get to the show, had a great time, and then drove the two hours back home. Then, the following day, we decided to do it all again. Yeah, that's right, so we traveled the two hours once again, purchased some less than legal scalped tickets, and saw the show again. But hey, this roadshow was worth it, because this time, after the show, we got to meet the band. And ya know what, Robert Smith could not have been nicer. Super shy too. So, then we drove the two hours back home. Fun weekend.

Cut to 1995 or so, and I found myself in Hershey Pa (just a few minutes from my hometown), seeing Natalie Merchant on her first solo tour. I can not for the life of me, remember who opened this show, but I do recall watching Natalie watch the opening act from the rafters above the stage. Evidently, I found more enjoyment in watching Natalie Merchant watching this forgotten band, than in the actual band themselves. Yup. After this, sometime in 1996, I traveled up north somewhere (New York state? I don't exactly remember) to see a fantastic double bill. It was Crosby, Stills, & Nash, along with Chicago. I must admit that I was going to see CSN, a lot more than Chicago, but I've gotta admit, that Chicago did rock the place. I enjoyed their horn section the most, and especially the trombonist (James Pankow, one of the founding members of the band waaay back in '67, and still a member of the band today) who certainly knew how to work the audience like a boss. But hey, then CSN came on, and they too rocked the house. It was a great show, and I enjoyed the between songs banter as much as the music (Stills and Nash took several jabs at Crosby's recent liver transplant, even going as far as to call it their "New Liver Tour"), but I kept wishing Neil Young would come out. Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against C, S, or N, in fact S, aka Stephen Stills, has always been my favourite, even when you add the Y into the mix, but I had heard that Young was showing up at some shows on the tour. But alas, no Y, to go with the C, S, and N. But once again, I digress.

We now come to 1997, and a little singer/songwriter by the name of Robert Zimmerman. Yeah, that's right kids, I got to see Bob Dylan in concert. It was in Hershey again, and it would be my first time seeing the man my one friend calls the P.I. (aka, the Prophet Incarnate), But more on the second time a little bit later. This time around, Dylan had Ani DiFranco opening for him. Apparently she was set to be one of the headliners in Lilith Fair, but turned them down, in order to open for Dylan, Atta girl. Later this same year, I got to see Joan Jett. It was a place called The Chameleon Club, in Lancaster, Pa, and that lady rocked the motherfuckin' house. I even got to reach up and touch her arm as she played guitar. Joan had fire engine red hair at the time. I had bleach blonde with red tips, so there ya go. Then came the year 1999, and a place called The Wire. This was a tiny little coffee shop in a tiny little Pennsylvania town called New Cumberland. But this wasn't technically a concert, so much as a poetry reading with keyboard accompaniment. The poet in question was Beat Generation legend, Michael McClure, and the keyboard accompaniment was Ray Manzerek, organist from The Doors. My lovely wife and I (still relatively freshly married) attended the show, and Amy (that's the aforementioned lovely wife) was almost run down by Ray Manzerek. Yeah, that's right. They guy's from L.A., and it was snowing here, and therefore his driving was a bit off-put. But hey, the guy did apologize to Amy with a hug and kiss. Groovy, man. Groovy.

It was during this period that I went to see a lot of local bands. Bands like Bubba, Son of Bubba, Big Tubba Mista, The Luv Gods (featuring Shea Quinn, ex member of The Sharks), the Doors cover band, Riders on the Storm, and the biggest local act of the time, The Martini Brothers. But I think the biggest and best concert I saw during the early aughts, was a show I saw by total happenstance. My wife and I, along with our friend Dawn, took a July trip to Boston. I had never been in Boston before. It was 4th of July weekend and we wandered into an Independence Day festival. Before we knew it, Barry Manilow took the main stage. Yeah, we had no idea, but there we were, seeing Barry Manilow, and for free. He wrote the songs, ya know. Anyhoo, a few years later, Amy and I got to see Bob Dylan, in Reading, Pa. It was my second time seeing the P.I., but it was Amy's first. Jimmie Vaughan, big brother to the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, opened. Oh, and for those in the know, the stadium in which we saw Dylan, the home of minor league baseball team, the Reading Phillies, was right along Highway 61. No joke, it really was - and yes, Dylan took notice to this as well. Most recently (in 2013 to be exact-ish) we got to see the legendary surf rock pioneer, Dick Dale, perform live. You might know the guy from his classic Miserlou. Yeah, the song QT used in Pulp Fiction. 75 years old, and he brought down the veritable house. So, that's it for my convert going life (so far) but, before we part ways, I should probably mention one other regular music gig.

It's called the kitchen, or la Cocina, and is a local Flamenco/music salon in a friend's house, that has been going on since 1987. Every Friday night, and I do mean every Friday night (the party throwers have actually gone out of town, but the party still went on without them) this music salon has happened. It is a great venue for music and friendship, and all that jazz. And yes, there might be some jazz every now and again too. But hey, this is not really a concert, so forget I even mentioned it. But before I go, I would like to mention a new act in town. They are an indie folk duo called The Gypsy Lights, made up of our brand new friends, Yusif and Sarah. But more on them later. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


  1. You have seen some neat bands(OK Yes I just did say neat). I remember I wanted to see ABBA when they did their Voulez-Vous tour and I asked my mom and she refused. I begged her and she said no because there would be drugs there. I blinked twice at her and said, "Mom, It's ABBA". Anyway I missed that. My brother could go to all the bands in the 70's. I know he saw Pink Floyd and he saw The Who 2 weeks after that horrible concert in Cincinnati where many people died. My brother said it was still bad because of the seating 2 weeks later and he left early. Anyhoo, I was in my heyday in the 80's since I was in my 20's but I still did not see many bands. I did get to see 2 big ones though-U2 and The Eurythmics. Annie Lennox rocks! My friends have been to every band from the 80's from Depeche Mode to even Flock of Seagulls. Now I have that song "One Thing Leads to Another" in my head:)

  2. Hey, I was at that Joan Jett show too. I remember I had my fake ID and everything. No one really believed I was 21, did they? I was only 17, but my ID said 21, but they had to know it was fake, right? Maybe it was because I was so fucking hot, huh? Yeah, I'm kidding. Kind of. Anyway, great post.

    Barry Manilow? Really? That's kind of awesome, in a nerdy kind of way.