Ziggy Marley: 9/10/2021

This was my first concert at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga. Ever since moving out here to California, people have been telling me that this is an amazing place to see a concert. An intimate 2500 seat outdoor amphitheater situated atop a mountain with spectacular views of the surrounding area, it really is a magical place for a concert.

When they announced the lineup for this year’s shows, there were many great options, so my wife and I decided we would each choose two concerts, and this was one my wife picked. I had seen Ziggy Marley many years ago as an opening act at a larger concert, and he was good (from what I can remember). But this show was fantastic.

First off, it was made clear that this was a tribute to his father, Bob Marley, and that they would be performing only songs from Bob Marley’s vast repertoire. That was a big plus for me. While I like reggae music, I am not a huge fan, but I do really like Bob Marley’s music.

We arrived at the venue and got our seats, which were fairly close, but immediately I realized that there is not a bad seat in the house. If I were in the last row, it would still be a good seat. After a somewhat long wait (it did not start on time), Ziggy and the band took the stage. He quickly announced to the audience that his brother Stephen Marley would be performing with them. Then they kicked right into the music.

The crowd was really responsive, and most everyone was up and dancing for the entire show, which felt great. It was almost like dancing away the negativity from the past 18 months and replacing it with “Positive Vibration.” It was so much fun and just what my soul needed.

Here is the full setlist, and I am including a few pictures from the show. Thanks for stopping by, and keep on jammin’.

Setlist:

  • Nice Time
  • Positive Vibration
  • Jamming
  • Burnin’ and Lootin’
  • Three Little Birds
  • Stir It Up
  • No Woman, No Cry
  • Get Up, Stand Up
  • War / No More Trouble
  • One Love / People Get Ready
  • Coming in From the Cold
  • Iron Lion Zion
  • Running Away / Crazy Baldhead
  • Is This Love
  • Exodus
  • Could You Be Loved

Encore:

  • I Shot the Sheriff
  • Lively Up Yourself
  • Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)

SiliCon: 8/28 – 29/2021

SiliCon is the new name for the Silicon Valley Comic Con, hosted by Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame. Since I kind of fall into the nerd category, it should come as no surprise that I could not resist attending a con a mere 15 minutes from my house, especially when one of the key sessions was a Q&A with the legendary William Shatner from the original Star Trek. Anyway, I decided to splurge on the VIP pass, which would get me preferred access to sessions, access to a VIP lounge with refreshments, and an autograph session with a guest to be announced. I wound up getting an autograph session with Mark Sheppard, which I was excited about being a big fan of “Supernatural” (he played Crowley, the King of Hell).

A “convention” in the time of COVID was a little weird. First off, it was pretty small. I had attended this con a couple years back and it was packed. This year, the exhibition hall was about half the size, and there were very few attendees. Which was fine with me, since it made me feel more comfortable. Additionally, masks were required, and cosplay masks did not qualify. But in spite of these health restrictions, it was a fun couple of days.

Not surprising, the high point for me was seeing the great William Shatner. For someone who is 90 years old, he was in great shape, had entertaining stories to tell, and was just inspiring. Also, I really enjoyed Mark Sheppard’s session. He was really witty and eloquent.

On Day 1, I attended the following sessions:

  • Opening Keynote Session with Adam Savage and astronaut Cady Coleman
  • Q&A Session with Bruce Boxleitner (IMDB Page)
  • Q&A Session with Mark Sheppard (IMDB Page)
  • Q&A Session with Denise Crosby (IMDB Page)

On Day 2, I attended:

  • Session with Adam Savage
  • Everyone to Beam Up: Q&A Session with William Shatner
  • How the Pandemic Changed Tabletop Gaming Forever
  • Lana Parrilla: A Q&A Session with Once Upon a Time’s Evil Queen

I had also planned to attend Dirk Benedict’s session (IMDB Page), but that got canceled, which was a bit of a bummer, but OK. All in all, it was great to get back out in the world and gather with some fellow nerds.

Here are a few pictures.

Mark Sheppard
Denise Crosby
William Shatner
Lana Parrilla

Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros: 7/24/2021

Yes! Live music is here again. This marks my first concert since Patti Smith at the Fillmore in March of 2020.

Earlier this week I was having breakfast with my wife, and she was reading the newspaper and asked me, “Did you know that Bob Weir is playing this weekend in Berkeley? Says tickets are $75.” I said I wasn’t aware and asked if she wanted to go with me, and she said yes, so I promptly went online and ordered two tickets to pick up at will call. Being a long-time Grateful Dead fan, it seemed appropriate that this would be my first post-pandemic concert. And I was particularly excited to go to the Greek Theatre. This is one of those legendary concert venues, so that just made the event all the more special.

When I ordered the tickets, I was notified about Covid restrictions. All concert attendees must present either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test. I had been procrastinating getting my official “Covid Passport” through the State of California, even though I am vaccinated. So I got that, and had a picture of my vaccine card on my phone, just in case.

Berkeley is a good hour’s drive for us, so we left early, since it was a general admission show, we had to deal with will call, and we wanted to grab some dinner before the concert. We got there and there were lines of Deadheads extending from both the north and south gates, two hours before show time. I wasn’t really worried, though. We went and got the tickets easily enough, then walked about a half a mile to a Mexican restaurant called Celia’s. The service was quick and the food was good. My wife and I both had combo fajitas.

After dinner, we went and got in line. Gates were open at this time, and entry was seamless. We did have to show our vaccine record, but that was easy and in no time, we were in the Greek. I have to say, just the stage itself was impressive.

The show started at just a few minutes past 7:00, and they opened with “Not Fade Away,” a Crickets’ cover which was a standard Dead song but I had never seen it played as an opener. The band sounded really good, and we particularly liked the horn and string ensemble that was supporting them.

About halfway through the first set, Bobby announced that a guest would be joining them for a song, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. For those of you who are not familiar, Ramblin’ Jack is an American country/folk icon. At 89, it is amazing that he was able to join the band on stage. They performed a cool version of “Mule Skinner Blues,” which I really enjoyed.

While the rest of the first set was solid, I have the say that the second set was amazing. It was like Bobby was playing to the fans, connected on a spiritual level, and each song seemed to have some poignant meaning. The lights were amazing, and we were on our feet dancing almost the entire show.

If I had to pick a high point, I would have to go with “Standing on the Moon.” I love that song, and they did it so beautifully, I felt truly moved.

The show concluded with “Ripple” as an encore, segueing into a reprise of “Not Fade Away,” bringing the musical experience full circle.

Again, I cannot emphasize enough how much I have missed going to live music performances. I’m glad they are back.

Here is the full setlist from the show. Stay safe, and rock on!

Set 1:

  • Not Fade Away >
  • Cassidy
  • She Says
  • Friend of the Devil
  • Black-Throated Wind
  • Tennessee Jed
  • Mule Skinner Blues (with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott)
  • Weather Report Suite >
  • Let It Grow

Set 2 :

  • You Win Again >
  • Scarlet Begonias >
  • Playing in the Band (with ‘So What’ by Miles Davis snippet) >
  • Uncle John’s Band >
  • Playing in the Band (reprise) >
  • Estimated Prophet >
  • The Other One (with ‘So What’ by Miles Davis snippet)
  • Standing on the Moon
  • One More Saturday Night

Encore:

  • Ripple >
  • Not Fade Away (reprise)

Crosby and Nash: 9/30/2007

I recently watched the David Crosby documentary, which was sad because it showed how messed up he was and how he burned bridges and lost all his musical friends. I did get to see Crosby, Stills and Nash before this show, but I don’t have a stub (it was an outside festival gig and I just payed my admission at the gate).

I went with my wife to this concert and we saw friends of ours there, which was nice, even if we were not sitting together.

The show was very good, and David and Graham harmonized beautifully together. The selection of songs was also great, spanning their long career together. As I reflect back on this show, I again feel sad knowing that these two will never perform together again, that the animosity is too great to overcome. But at least we have the wealth of music they created together.

Here is the setlist, and thanks David and Graham for the great music that you brought to us through the years.

Set 1:

  • Military Madness
  • Marrakesh Express
  • Long Time Gone
  • Lay Me Down
  • Immigration Man
  • In My Dreams
  • I Used to Be a King
  • Carry Me
  • Cathedral
  • Déjà Vu

Set 2:

  • Guinnevere
  • Milky Way Tonight
  • Just a Song Before I Go
  • Naked in the Rain
  • Wasted on the Way
  • Jesus of Rio
  • To the Last Whale…A. Critical Mass B. Wind on the Water
  • Almost Cut My Hair
  • Wooden Ships

Encore:

  • Our House
  • Teach Your Children

Neil Young and the International Harvesters: 9/15/1985

I remember this performance clearly; the only thing I don’t remember about this concert was who I went with. Obviously, I was focused on Neil.

The International Harvesters were a country band backing up Neil on this tour, which was cool because they played a lot of acoustic tunes that went over really well, such as “Heart of Gold,” “Old Man” and “Helpless.” And even the more intense Crazy Horse tunes, like “Down by the River” and “Powderfinger” actually sounded really good with the country flavor.

I am a huge Neil Young fan and would see him multiple times after this with Crazy Horse, but I have to confess that it was very cool seeing him with this configuration. There is something about Neil’s country-style music that just soothes my soul.

Here is the setlist. Long may Mr. Young keep playing music for us.

Setlist:

  • Country Home
  • Comes a Time
  • Lookin’ for a Love
  • Heart of Gold
  • This Old House
  • Southern Pacific
  • Interstate
  • Sugar Mountain
  • Helpless
  • California Sunset
  • Nothing Is Perfect
  • Field of Opportunity
  • Down by the River
  • Old Man
  • Powderfinger

Encore:

  • Get Back to the Country
  • Grey Riders

Alice Cooper and Vinnie Vincent Invasion: 12/31/1986

I had basically seen this exact same show three days earlier at the West Palm Beach Auditorium, but I could not pass up a chance to see the Coop again, especially on New Year’s Eve.

I went with a woman I was dating at the time, Christine, and I painted my face up as Alice. Figured I would get my full fan-boy on. I knew a lot of people who were going this night, including my brother and our friend Jon.

Vinnie Vincent was kind of a joke the second time around. I literally burst out laughing at one point when he did his best Karate Kid kick and knocked over the same dummy amp from the other night. Oh well, at least he tried.

During intermission, Christine and I went and met up with my brother and Jon in the lobby area. Now there was this one section in the lobby where some stairs were above, and the headroom as not that high. A basketball player would have to duck, for sure. Well, we were hanging out there, and Jon decided to have a little fun with some inebriated headbangers. “Hey,” Jon said, “I bet you can’t jump high enough to touch the ceiling there with your head.” They would not walk away from a dare, and proceeded to jump up and down, clonking their heads on the cement above them. It was humorous, and I suspect they woke with a splitting headache the following morning.

After a long intermission, Alice took the stage. The show was exactly the same as the WPB show, which, if I am being honest, I had hoped he would have at least thrown one or two treats in there for NYE, but still, it was a great show, even if it was the same.

Here is the setlist, in case you missed it from my last post. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • Welcome to My Nightmare
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Be My Lover
  • I’m Eighteen
  • The World Needs Guts
  • Give It Up
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Go to Hell
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Teenage Frankenstein
  • Sick Things
  • I Love the Dead
  • School’s Out

Encore:

  • Elected
  • Under My Wheels

Alice Cooper and Vinnie Vincent Invasion: 12/28/1986

This stub is from Alice’s “The Nightmare Returns” tour. My memory of this show is a little spotty, mainly because I would see the same show again a few days afterwards on New Year’s Eve (that stub and memory to come soon). I can’t remember with whom I went to this show, but I have some recollections about the performances.

The Vinnie Vincent Invasion opened the show. Vincent was the guitarist for KISS prior to striking out on this solo venture. They were very much an embodiment of 80’s glam metal, and mildly entertaining. But I had to chuckle to myself, because at the end of the set, Vincent kicked over one of his amplifiers, but since I was close to the stage I noticed there were no cords or wires connected to it, and it did not seem to have speakers inside the cabinet, so I deduced it was a dummy amp (my assumption was confirmed on NYE when he kicked over the same “amp”). Anyway, not the best opening act I had seen, but not the worst either.

After a break, the Coop took the stage, opening with “Welcome to My Nightmare,” a great opener and right up there with “Hello Hurray,” which in my humble opinion is the best opening song ever.

Anyway, the rest of the show was all killer and no filler, as is evident from the setlist below. Rock on, and be sure to check back soon for my memories of the New Year’s show.

Setlist:

  • Welcome to My Nightmare
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Be My Lover
  • I’m Eighteen
  • The World Needs Guts
  • Give It Up
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Go to Hell
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Teenage Frankenstein
  • Sick Things
  • I Love the Dead
  • School’s Out

Encore:

  • Elected
  • Under My Wheels

The Moody Blues and The Fixx: 9/29/1986

Here is a great example of why it was cool to be around in the 70s and 80s. You could go and see two cool bands for a mere $16.50. I’ve spent three times that much just for parking at concerts these days.

Anyway, I had seen the Moody’s the night before in Miami, but I figured, “Why not go see them again?” Supposedly The Fixx opened at the Miami show too, but I don’t really have any recollection of that concert. This one I remember better. I went with my friend Carlos and we had a great time. While the West Palm Beach Auditorium was not nearly as intimate as the Knight Center in Miami, it was cool because you could walk around and pretty much do what you wanted. It was a very laid-back venue.

Nothing really extraordinary to share about this show. I was able to locate the setlists online, so here they are. Enjoy!

The Fixx Setlist:

  • Lost Planes
  • Saved by Zero
  • Built for the Future
  • Secret Separation
  • Are We Ourselves?
  • Treasure It
  • Deeper and Deeper
  • One Thing Leads to Another
  • Red Skies
  • Stand or Fall

The Moody Blues Setlist:

  • Gemini Dream
  • The Voice
  • Rock ‘N’ Roll Over You
  • Tuesday Afternoon
  • Your Wildest Dreams
  • Isn’t Life Strange
  • The Story in Your Eyes
  • It May Be a Fire
  • Reflective Smile
  • Veteran Cosmic Rocker
  • New Horizons
  • The Other Side of Life
  • I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)
  • Nights in White Satin
  • Legend of a Mind
  • Question

Encore:

  • Ride My See-Saw

ZZ Top: 9/6/1981

This was my first time seeing the little ol’ band from Texas. This show was part of the El Loco-motion tour and I was pretty psyched to see them.

While I am not 100% sure of this, I think I went to see this concert with my friend and fellow guitarist Mike. What I do remember most vividly about this concert, though, was the laser light show.

Our seats were in the back of the Sportatorium. I confess that when the first blast of lasers erupted from the stage I was taken aback. ZZ Top was not a band I expected to have lasers. I equated lasers with bands like Blue Oyster Cult, Yes, and Pink Floyd. But I have to say, the lasers worked really well, especially during “Cheap Sunglasses.”

The band was totally rockin’ the entire show. I don’t recall any weak spots at all.

I have no recollection of an opening act. I read on Wikipedia that the Joe Perry Project opened for a bunch of shows on this tour, but Joe was definitely not at the Sporto show.

Anyway, here’s the setlist. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • Groovy Little Hippie Pad
  • I Thank You
  • Waitin’ For The Bus
  • Jesus Just Left Chicago
  • I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
  • Ten Foot Pole
  • Manic Mechanic
  • Heard It On The X
  • Francine
  • A Fool For Your Stockings
  • Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings
  • Pearl Necklace
  • Cheap Sunglasses
  • Dust My Broom
  • Arrested For Driving While Blind
  • Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers
  • Just Got Paid
  • Party On The Patio

Encore:

  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Tube Snake Boogie
  • La Grange
  • Tush

Taj Mahal Trio: 11/5/2006

This is going to be a short and sweet post. This stub hearkens back to a simpler time. I had bought tickets for me and my wife to go see Taj Mahal. Before the concert, we went out for dinner, then made our way to the Orange Peel and just had a great time listening to excellent live blues music.

These long months of COVID social distancing and no concerts has really emphasized how wonderful it is to just go out for dinner and attend a concert with someone you love. I really miss these simple pleasures. I can’t wait for when I can have a date night with my wife, enjoying dinner and a concert. Hopefully it will not be too far in the future.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe, and please do your part to help us return to a happier place.