Chuck Berry and Donovan: 02/20/1988


OK, so first off, observe the price of this ticket. That’s right — $0.00. This was a free concert, but it did require a ticket to get in, probably to minimize the number of people.

As you can imagine, Chuck Berry was the headliner, with Donovan as the opener (not a bad opener, in my humble opinion). Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans. The show was delayed and people were getting a little antsy. Finally the announcer came out and said that Donovan’s flight was delayed, so Chuck would play first and Donovan would play later. All I could think was I would HATE to have to perform after Chuck Berry.

The man came out on stage, and it was rock and roll in the purest sense. Words fail me in trying to describe the feeling I got from seeing the person who, in my eyes, was the grandfather of rock and roll. He was everything I expected. You knew and sang along with every song; he did his trademark duck walk and skip; and he had the youth and vigor of someone half his age. When it was over, I was floored. All I wanted to do was go home and play Chuck Berry tunes on my guitar. It was truly inspiring.

Then came a wait, a very long wait. The announcer spoke up again, ensuring that Donovan would in fact be there. Lots of people left, which I could understand. Hey, they just saw the great Chuck Berry… for free! But I do love Donovan’s music, so I patiently waited, seeking creative ways to entertain myself.

Finally, Donovan arrived. It probably worked in his favor that a couple hours passed between when Chuck finished and he started. It was just him with an acoustic guitar and the people who stayed were very appreciative. He played all his hits, as well as some obscure tunes (sorry, don’t ask me what they were). But I was really glad I waited around because he was great, not Chuck Berry great, but great none-the-less.

It still blows my mind to think that I got to see such an amazing show for free. I’ve seen some great free shows in my life, but they usually did not come with a ticket stub. Having a stub with Chuck Berry’s name on it makes me really, really happy.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you get out and see some live music soon.