New Riders of the Purple Sage: 6/16/1989

Pretty sure I went to this show with my friends Crispy Craig and/or Joe the Mailman, but not 100% sure about that. What I am sure about is that was that I got the late John Dawson (aka Marmaduke) to sign my copy of the NRPS’s first album (see below). THAT was way cool.

So Musician’s Exchange Café was a small venue in Fort Lauderdale, and there were tables so you could sit around and watch the musicians perform. We got there early (not that difficult for a concert starting at midnight), and secured a table in the front. That was how I was able to slip my album up to Marmaduke and have him sign it.

John Dawson made his final ride into the psychedelic sunset on July 21, 2009. I still treasure this album.

Sorry, could not find the setlist for this show, but it was a damn good performance, and they played “Sutter’s Mill,” which made my night.

Martin Barre: 3/24/2017

Martin Barre is the guitarist from Jethro Tull, and since Tull is on an extended hiatus, he is performing solo with a backing band.

I had planned to go to this concert with my youngest daughter, who really likes Jethro Tull (proof I’ve raised my kids right), but she was unfortunately sick and could not muster the strength to go, so my friend Dan acquired my extra, and he and his significant other Angie joined me for the show.

First, I want to say that at 70 years old, Martin is as great of a guitarist as he was when I saw Jethro Tull for the first time in the late 70’s. His technical performance, tone, and energy were those of someone half his age. There was also a maturity in his playing, and I mean that in only the best sense of the word.

There was no opening act, and the band played two sets and an encore. Early in the first set, they played “Minstrel in the Gallery,” probably my favorite Tull song. I have seen Tull three times and the only time they played “Minstrel” was as an encore the first time I saw them, so hearing Martin and his band play it was amazing for me. After the song, I told Dan I could leave now and be happy. But I’m glad I stayed. The rest of the night was packed with incredible music, including an abundance of Tull songs and some really nice cover tunes (see setlist below).

After the show, I went out to my car and grabbed my record cover of “Minstrel in the Gallery,” which I brought with me in the hopes of getting autographed. I waited around with the other old rockers (a reference to a Tull song here) and after a short while, Martin came out to sign autographs. When it was my turn to meet him, I told him that I had attended a guitar clinic that he hosted at Ace Music in Miami many years ago. He clearly remembered the clinic and shared his memories of staying at the Fontainebleau Hotel. He was really pleasant and friendly, and I left feeling grateful to have met someone whose music was so inspiring to me throughout my life.

Here is the setlist, and remember, you’re never too old to rock and roll if you’re too young to die.

Set 1

  • Hammer
  • To Cry You a Song
  • Minstrel in the Gallery
  • Steal Your Heart Away
  • Back to Steel
  • Love Story
  • After You After Me
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
  • Sweet Dream
  • Sealion
  • Thick as a Brick

Set 2

  • Blackest Eyes
  • Nothing to Say
  • Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day
  • Cross Road Blues
  • Bad Man
  • A Song for Jeffrey
  • Moment of Madness
  • Teacher
  • Fat Man
  • A New Day Yesterday

Encore:

  • Locomotive Breath

Greg Lake: 4/25/2012

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“If you were stranded on a desert island with just one album to listen to, what would it be?” If you are my age, I’m sure you’ve answered this question many times. My response was pretty standard: Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson Lake and Palmer. Throughout the years, I have owned this on vinyl (twice), on cassette, on 8-track, and on CD. It is an album I never tire of listening to.

I dug out this stub because Greg Lake passed away a couple days ago. He died the same year that his bandmate Keith Emerson also died. 2016 has been a terrible year for musicians.

I went to this concert with my friend Bill, a former bandmate of mine and a writer for various music publications. He had acquired a pair of complimentary tickets, which included a pass to meet Greg after the performance. I have to say, I was pretty excited to meet someone who has inspired me musically for most of my life.

We drove to Raleigh, got some food, then went to the venue. The manager there was very accommodating and invited us in early, gave us more food and beverages, and made us feel like VIP’s. The venue was intimate and we had great seats. Finally, the lights went out and Greg Lake took the stage.

This was his “storyteller” tour, so it was just him on the stage, playing bass and guitar along with recorded tracks, and of course singing. He also spent a good deal of time between songs telling personal stories about bands, recordings, and life as a musician. I felt like I got to know him on a deeper level and gained a more rich understanding of him as an artist. He played a broad selection of music from his early days in King Crimson through ELP and solo material. For me, it was an amazing experience, but it got better.

After the performance, we went to the VIP guest room and waited for Greg to arrive. After a bit, he showed up and people queued up to meet him and ask him questions. I of course had to bring a copy of Brain Salad Surgery, which he graciously signed for me. I felt a little intimidated meeting him, but he was pretty relaxed. I asked him what new bands he listened to. He said none, really. I felt a twinge of sadness for him. There are some great musicians out there now, and I thought he might find enjoyment and inspiration from listening to them. To quote his song: “C’est la vie” (which he played).

Greg Lake will be sorely missed, but he has gone on to join the great gig in the sky. Godspeed.

greglake_bss

Gratefully Yours: 10/26/1991

GratefullyYours_10-26-91

The world is full of Grateful Dead tribute bands, but this one was unique because it featured Tom Constanten, original keyboardist for the Grateful Dead, along with David Nelson from the New Riders of the Purple Sage.

Summers on the Beach was a stereotypical Fort Lauderdale beach bar, but they used to get some decent acts in there. Being a life-long Dead fan, I was not going to miss this opportunity to see Constanten perform. Also, I do love me some NRPS, so I was psyched to see Nelson too.

The show was a lot of fun. The band sounded great and they really dug deep into the repertoire, playing some choice songs like “Mountains of the Moon” and “The Eleven.” I knew a lot of people there, since South Florida had a pretty close-knit Deadhead community. We all danced and sang along. It was just a fun night of great music.

The coolest thing, though, is that Tom Constanten came out after the show and mingled with the audience, chatting and offering to sign autographs. As you can see, I got my ticket stub signed by him. It was the perfect ending to a great night of live music.

Ginger Baker: 10/23/1989

GingerBaker

While rummaging through my piles of stubs this morning, I came upon this one, which has a great story associated with it. For those of you who do not know who Ginger Baker is, he was most famous for being the drummer for Cream and Blind Faith, but he also played in other bands.

OK, now for the story.

During this time, I was in a couple bands and playing a lot of music, hence I had a lot of musician friends. One of my band mates, Greg, was a huge Eric Clapton and Cream fan, so he found out about this drum clinic where Ginger Baker would be performing. He and I, along with a few of our musician friends that included Big Ed and Bongo Bob, got tickets to attend. Big Ed and Bongo Bob were in a band together called the Pranksters, inspired by Ken Kesey’s merry band of freaks. Ed, who sadly passed away too young, was about 500 pounds and Bob loved to wear a suede jacket with fringes (in Florida) while channeling his inner Roger Daltrey.

We arrived at McArthur High School in Hollywood, Florida and all I could think of was “Oh, how far the mighty hath fallen!” I half expected the sign in front of the school to display “Puppet Show and Ginger Baker.” It was kind of sad to see that one of rock’s legendary drummers was reduced to playing by himself in a high school auditorium.

If you’ve heard stories about Mr. Baker, I can attest that they are accurate. He was kind of a curmudgeon, and he definitely suffered the effects of living the hard rock and roll life. He banged around on a blue Ludwig drum kit, and in between would tell garbled stories in a way that made Ozzy Osbourne sound eloquent. Then the floor was opened up for questions. Ginger seemed to have a difficult time understanding what was being asked. At one point, someone asked a question, which somehow reworded itself in his brain to a criticism about his drug use (the question had nothing to do with drugs). He started ranting about how people just won’t leave him alone about drugs, and blah blah blah. The poor person who asked the question went and sat down, dejected.

Finally, we all got to line up and meet Ginger and get autographs. People were getting records, drum heads, and such memorabilia signed. I lacked the foresight to bring one of my Cream albums along, but I did get him to sign the ticket stub, as you can see from the image.

When my friend Greg got up there, I could see how awestruck he was, meeting one of his musical idols. And hey, I understand. Meeting someone who has inspired you is a huge deal. But I was unprepared for what I would discover at our next band rehearsal.

The band I was in at the time with Greg, The DV8’s, would practice in Greg’s garage. I arrived for practice, guitar case in hand, and was greeted by a beaming Greg. “Look what I got!” he exclaimed as he pointed to the corner. There stood a new blue Ludwig drum kit. He was unable to resist the temptation to purchase the drum kit that Ginger Baker played on at the world famous McArthur High School. Every time after that when we would rehearse, when I looked at the drum set, I would get the image of Ginger Baker, sitting by himself, at the front of a high school auditorium.