David Grisman Bluegrass Experience: 3/18/2017

This was a somewhat pricey ticket for a show at the Grey Eagle, which is a bar and essentially standing room only (unless you paid $75 for a seat). But, I had never seen Grisman and figured I should jump at the opportunity to do so, and I am glad I did. I was supposed to go with my friend Robert to this show, but he was sick so he told me to give away his ticket. I called a few people and ended up giving it to my friend Bob, a mandolin/guitar player that I am currently in a band with, so it went to someone who appreciated the music.

The show was sold out, so the place was cramped and hot, but no one seemed to care. There was an opening band (the name evaded me) that also played traditional bluegrass, and they were good. They got the crowd excited. Then Grisman’s band came out. They were outstanding. They basically played unplugged, each member stepping up to one of the several microphones set up on stage when it was time to solo. But what made this show truly special was the surprise guest: Bobby Hicks, the fiddler from Bill Monroe’s group. He basically sat in for the second half of the set, and it was awesome. I managed to get a good picture with my phone.

I wish I had more to share, but was unable to locate the set list. It was an excellent concert and I am really glad I went.

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

Grandmothers of Invention: 8/11/2012

Grandmothers_8-11-12

This was a really cool show, featuring members of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. I had seen Zappa many years ago, and he was great, but as my musical tastes developed and expanded, my appreciation for his music grew.

For those of you who have never been to Asheville, the Grey Eagle is a small venue, basically a bar which also serves some food. But the vibe there is great. So needless to say, I had seats quite close to the stage with my friends Bill and Robert.

Musically, this band was incredible. Napoleon Murphy Brock was brilliant as the front man, chatting up the crowd, making jokes, dancing up a storm, and directing the music. They had a young guitarist who looked a lot like Frank and he was scary good on the guitar. But for me, it was Don Preston on the keyboards who stole the show. He was getting ready to turn 80 and he looked and sounded great. Not only was he all over the keyboards, playing incredibly intricate music, but he also performed magic tricks on stage, much to the delight of the audience. And if that wasn’t enough, he took out hi iPhone, opened a synthesizer app, and played a killer solo on his phone. It was impressive… most impressive.

The band returned to the Grey Eagle again the following year, and I went to see them again, convincing my brother (a long-time Zappa fan) to drive out to Asheville for the show. But that’s another stub and another story.

Here’s a video clip that my friend Robert took.