Ozomatli: 3/11/2009

This was a really fun concert. I had seen Ozomatli open for Santana and they were awesome, so I was excited to see them in a small venue.

The opening act was Chali 2na, who was one of the founding members of the hip hop group Jurassic 5. He was cool and got the crowd going. Always great when you have a good opening act, it’s like a bonus.

As far as Ozo goes, they were fantastic and had the audience dancing from start to finish. Near the end, they came out into the crowd with various percussion instruments and had a real tribal thing going. It was very cool. If you’ve never seen or heard Ozomatli, I highly recommend them. They are the epitome of what a multicultural world beat band should be.

Rock on.

Warren Haynes 18th Christmas Jam: 12/16/2006

This Christmas Jam was a strange one, with some highs and some lows. Also, things on a personal level were very unsettled at the time, so that affected the overall experience.

The lineup was pretty solid:

  • Dave Matthews
  • Gov’t Mule
  • The John Popper Project Featuring DJ Logic
  • Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives
  • New Orleans Social Club (featuring Henry Butler, Leo Nocentelli, Ivan Neville, George Porter & Raymond Weber)
  • Taj Mahal Trio
  • Special Guests: Mike Barnes, Brendan Bayliss, Randall Bramblett, Audley Freed, Col. Bruce Hampton, Taylor Hicks, Kevn Kinney, Branford Marsalis, Mickey Raphael, Dave Schools

I was really psyched to see Branford Marsalis. He is a virtuoso on the saxophone, and I had really high expectations of him jamming with various groups.

I guess I should address the low points first. John Popper’s group was pretty boring. He is a great harmonica player, but something about him as a frontman just doesn’t spark excitement for me. The other weakness in this show was Dave Matthews. Although I like Matthews, he was totally sick at this show, obviously fighting the flu. He was struggling to sing, and actually had to stop midsong once to get a drink and catch his breath. I give him a lot of credit for getting up there in such condition, but it did not make for a great performance.

As far as the high points, Branford and Taylor Hicks jamming with New Orleans Social Club was mind-blowing. Hicks, the American Idol winner, played harmonica alongside Marsalis, and the look of admiration and awe on Taylor’s face of getting to jam with Branford was priceless. Branford also performed a killer sax solo on “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.”

The last thing I want to say is that Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives were awesome. I had seen Marty solo at the Christmas Jam, just sitting in on mandolin, but to see him with his full band was really great. They were really top notch musicians and their entire set was flawless.

I was only able to locate the setlists for Dave Matthews and Gov’t Mule, so here they are. If anyone has any other setlists from this show, feel free to post them in the comments section.

Dave Matthews:

  • Bartender
  • Grace Is Gone
  • #40
  • Save Me
  • So Damn Lucky
  • Smooth Rider (aborted)
  • Gravedigger
  • Crush
  • Long Black Veil

 

Gov’t Mule:

Set I

  • Cortez the Killer (w Dave Matthews)
  • All Along the Watchtower (w Dave Matthews)
  • Reggae Soulshine
  • Brand New Angel
  • Unring the Bell
  • Leaving Trunk

Set II

  • Sco-Mule
  • Mule
  • Sugaree
  • I Shall Be Released
  • Time to Confess
  • 3 String George
  • Child of the Earth
  • Devil Likes It Slow
  • The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
  • I Shall Be Released

The Allman Brothers Band and Phil Lesh & Friends: 10/4/2008

This show was a jam-band fan’s dream. The Allmans and Phil Lesh. I was pretty psyched for this one. I made the drive from Asheville to Charlotte with my friend Greg, which took us a little over two hours. We had scored lawn tickets, which was fine. I felt no desire to be up close. Plus, the lawn tickets were only $16.50++, which was very reasonable for two great bands in 2008.

We staked out our little patch of grass at the Verizon Amphiteatre and waited for Phil. He came out and opened with “Cumberland Blues,” which was great. But the band didn’t seem able to sustain the energy for this particular show. There were a few high points, like “Golden Road” and “Cosmic Charlie,” but overall I was left with the impression that this was probably the weakest Phil & Friends show I had seen. It happens. As a musician, I know that you can’t be 100% all the time, and that any number of factors can affect a performance. Still, it was great seeing Phil, as always.

Then came the Allmans, and in comparison, they were stellar. Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes together on guitar were phenomenal. You could tell that they were feeding off of each other’s energy, seamlessly shifting between solos and augmenting and supporting each other like the seasoned veteran musicians they are. And Gregg Allman was in great form, belting out the tunes and making the hairs stand up on the back of the neck. By the time the last note of “Whipping Post” faded, I was completely rocked out.

My friend Greg and I wandered back to the car, only to discover to our dismay that the car would not start. One of the wires had come loose from the battery terminal. I tried not to panic, but the thought of spending the night in a parking lot in Charlotte was, shall we say, less than appealing. Thankfully, a friendly concert goer offered to help. We got the wire reattached, got the car started, and made it home without further incident.

Here are the setlists from the respective acts. Rock on!

Phil Lesh Setlist:

  • Cumberland Blues
  • Gone Wanderin’
  • Rock-n-Roll Blues
  • Minglewood Blues
  • Row Jimmy
  • The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • Dark Star
  • So Many Roads
  • Dark Star
  • In the Midnight Hour

Encore:

  • Cosmic Charlie

Allman Brothers Setlist:

  • Done Somebody Wrong
  • Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’
  • The Same Thing
  • Gambler’s Roll
  • Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More
  • Manic Depression
  • Come and Go Blues
  • Come On in My Kitchen
  • Into the Mystic
  • Dreams
  • Black Hearted Woman
  • Southbound

Encore:

  • Whipping Post

Alice Cooper: 7/6/2003

This is one of my favorite ticket stubs. I mean, Alice Cooper, in Liverpool England, the home of the Beatles. How cool is that?

I was in England visiting family at this time, which was a very difficult period in my life. I was working like crazy because I owned a small business, and let’s say that my business partner was the antithesis of helpful. My wife and I were struggling financially, I was physically and mentally exhausted, and things were pretty grim. But there was a huge family gathering happening in England and one of my uncles offered to buy me a ticket to fly there, so I packed my bags and flew across the pond.

I was staying with family not far from Liverpool, and discovered much to my surprise that Alice was playing there. My cousin P., who is one of the most awesome people in the world, knew how much I liked Alice Cooper and bought two tickets so that I could go with one of my uncles. So my Uncle B. and  I headed down to Kings Dock to see the Coop.

The venue was surreal. It was like a big tent set up on the dock, so it had that crazy carnival feel, which is apropos for a Cooper concert.

The lights went down, and the band took the stage, opening with “Hello Hooray,” arguably the best opening song ever. And then it was all classic Cooper.

He broke out some really cool tunes that were surprising, like “Desperado,” “Public Animal #9,” and “Long Way to Go,” a highly underrated song off the “Love It To Death” album. The tour was dubbed the “Bare Bones Tour,” so it was missing the elaborate stage props (no guillotine or snake), just Alice and the band playing a solid set of killer tunes.

Although I was teetering on the brink of depression, seeing Alice in England was a nice boost for me. And getting to go to a concert with my uncle is a memory that I will treasure for the rest of my days. Anyway, here’s the setlist. Rock on!

Setlist

  • Hello Hooray
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • Long Way to Go
  • Public Animal #9
  • Be My Lover
  • Lost in America
  • I’m Eighteen
  • Serious
  • Desperado
  • Halo of Flies
  • Welcome to My Nightmare
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Guilty
  • School’s Out

Encore:

  • Poison
  • Elected
  • Disgraceland
  • Under My Wheels

Dark Star Orchestra: 2/12/2009

So I have to confess that ever since the COVID-19 crisis hit I have grappled with whether or not to post about my concert memories. It just seemed like rubbing salt into a wound, because in spite of all the great streaming performances that are being made available, for me, there is nothing quite like being at a live concert, and this is what has been the most difficult for me during these five weeks of social distancing (so far). I really miss going to concerts, and if you are reading my blog, I can only assume you feel the same. But a fellow blogger encouraged me to start posting again (thanks Barb), and also, there seems to be a glimmer of hope that some restrictions may be eased soon. So, here we go.

For a long time I was reluctant to go see Dark Star Orchestra. Having seen the Grateful Dead many, many times, and having been in a “Grateful Dead tribute band” for several years, it just did not call to me. But at the encouragement of a good friend, I decided to go and check them out. And I’m glad I did. They are exceptionally good musicians, and the crowd was very appreciative. Let’s face it, the crowd can make or break a concert. Music is a reciprocal art form, where the artists and the audience feed off each other and create a unique energetic experience. And DSO definitely was able to make that connection with the Orange Peel crowd. I danced and grooved with all the other freaks, and everyone just had a real good time. Sometimes, that’s all we need.

I really hope we can all start gathering at concerts again in the near future. Heck, I have tickets to see Alanis Morissette with Liz Phair and Garbage in June. The show still has not been cancelled or postponed. Hope springs eternal.

Please let me know if you want to hear more concert stories in these days of social distancing. I still have plenty of stubs and stories to share.

Stay safe, and may music soothe your mortal soul.

Donna the Buffalo: 02/02/2007

Donna the Buffalo has one of the punniest tag lines: “Herd of ‘em?” This was actually the second time I had “herd ‘em” perform live, but the first time was a bit of a bummer. They were playing at the Lake Eden Arts Festival, and I had agreed to volunteer in order to get a free pass, and just my luck, my volunteer slot was right when Donna the Buffalo were on stage, so I got to hear them, and was able to sneak off for one song, but did not get the full experience. Which was why I was psyched to see them at the Orange Peel.

I ended up going to this one on my own, but it was cool. I had a great time. The music was awesome and the crowd was energized. I danced with all the hippies, and only had to relocate once when a guy who was near me kept flogging me with his nappy dreads.

Here’s the setlist. Jam on!

Setlist:

  • Movin’ On
  • Living In Babylon
  • Voice In My Head
  • Locket And Key >
  • Family Picture
  • Garden Of Eden
  • Conscious Evolution
  • Tides Of Time
  • If You Were To Love Me
  • Temporary Misery
  • Blue Sky
  • Hey Trudy
  • Killing A Man
  • If You Only Could
  • Every Day
  • I Don’t Need A Riddle
  • Hot Tamale Baby
  • Tomorrow Still Knows
  • No Place Like The Right Time

Encore:

  • 40 Days & 40 Nights
  • Let Love Move Me

Progressive Nation Tour – featuring Dream Theater and Zappa Plays Zappa: 7/29/2009

This was a pretty cool show. As a guitarist, getting to see John Petrucci and Dweezil Zappa on the same night was inspiring.

I went with my friend and bandmate, Bill (who is a keyboardist/vocalist). We got to the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium early enough to catch the first of the four acts, a band called Scale the Summit. I was unable to determine whether they were good or not, because they were so loud and distorted, I could not make out any of the music. Now I’m not one to shy away from some loud rock and roll, but these dudes were just painful. We ended up hanging out in the lobby until they were done.

Next up was a band called Bigelf. Neither of us had heard of them before, but we were both impressed. Not only did they sound great, but they had amazing stage presence. I highly recommend checking these guys out if you have not heard them.

After Bigelf, Zappa Plays Zappa took the stage, and they were incredible. Dweezil is really able to pull off his dad’s intricate and complex music, and make it look effortless. Additionally, he had a large screen behind the stage, and during several songs, they had video and audio of Frank performing and the band accompanied the virtual performance. It was very cool, and a nice nod to his dad’s genius.

Topping off the evening was Dream Theater. I was enjoying them, but the grimace on my friend’s face let me know he did not find them as interesting as I did. While he conceded that Petrucci is a “frighteningly good guitarist,” he said the singer was too screamo and he found that irritating. A fair critique. I was not impressed by the singer, but I was not bothered either.

Anyway, here are the setlists from all except the opening act. Rock on!

Dream Theater Setlist:

  • A Nightmare to Remember
  • Constant Motion
  • Beyond This Life
  • Hollow Years
  • Keyboard Solo
  • Erotomania
  • Voices
  • The Count of Tuscany

Encore:

  • Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper

Zappa Plays Zappa Setlist:

  • Peaches en Regalia
  • Inca Roads
  • Montana
  • Village of the Sun
  • Echidna’s Arf (Of You)
  • Magic Fingers
  • Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy
  • The Black Page
  • A Pound for a Brown on the Bus
  • San Ber’dino
  • Willie the Pimp

Bigelf Setlist (from Atlanta):

  • The Evils of Rock & Roll
  • Neuropsychopathic Eye
  • Pain Killers
  • Blackball
  • Hydra