Warren Haynes 25th Christmas Jam – First Night: 12/13/2013

The 25th annual Christmas Jam to benefit Habitat for Humanity was a milestone event, and as such, was extended to two nights and featured an array of amazing musicians. I, of course, had to go both nights.

The first night featured a solid list of headliners:

  • Warren Haynes & Ray Sisk
  • Gov’t Mule
  • Love Canon
  • Keb’ Mo’
  • John Scofield and the Uberjam Band
  • Gregg Allman
  • Phil Lesh Quintet
  • Widespread Panic

In addition to the headline acts, the show also included the following special guests: Ike Stubblefield, Randall Bramblett, Birdland, Jay Bowman, Ron Holloway, Ron Johnson, Casey Driessen, and Jeff Sipe.

As a die-hard Grateful Dead fan, I was most excited to see Phil Lesh. And while he played a great set, I felt somewhat sad at the end. Basically, whenever Phil sang, he just seemed weary, like the years were finally catching up with him. It did not come as a surprise that he essentially stopped touring after this, only playing an occasional show on the East Coast and basically playing at Terrapin Crossroads, a club he owns in San Raphael. I guess that seeing Phil looking old made me feel old too.

I’m pretty sure that Gregg Allman played a short acoustic set with Warren during this first night, but I could not find a setlist to confirm that.

On to Widespread Panic. They are one of those bands who, like Primus, I feel that I should like, but I really am just not crazy about. And as the clock was nearing 2:00 am, my tolerance for them plummeted real fast. I ended up leaving the show about halfway through their set. I knew I would have another long night of music the next day, so I wasn’t going to wear myself out staying up for a band that I just wasn’t that interested in.

Anyway, here are the setlists that I was able to find online. Check back soon for my memories from the second night.

Setlists:

Warren Haynes & Ray Sisk

  • Glory Road

Keb’ Mo’

  • France
  • More Than One Way Home
  • Government Cheese
  • Every Morning (with John Scofield)
  • Perpetual Blues Machine (with John Scofield)
  • Shave Yo’ Legs

Phil Lesh Quintet

  • Celebration >
  • Playing in the Band >
  • China Cat Sunflower >
  • I Know You Rider
  • Night of 1000 Stars
  • Mountains of the Moon >
  • St. Stephen >
  • The Other One >
  • Over the Rainbow >
  • The Other One
  • Terrapin Station

Widespread Panic

  • Disco >
  • Papa’s Home (with Count M’Butu) >
  • Up All Night
  • Worry
  • None of Us Are Free
  • Surprise Valley >
  • Ride Me High (with Randall Bramblett) >
  • Drums >
  • Surprise Valley
  • Expiration Day
  • Angels on High (with Warren Haynes and Randall Bramblett)
  • Jesus Just Left Chicago (with Warren Haynes)
  • Ain’t Life Grand

Gov’t Mule

  • World Boss
  • Mother Earth
  • Opium (with Bill Evans and Ike Stubblefield)
  • Scared to Live
  • Game Face (with ‘Mountain Jam’ snippet)
  • Captured
  • Funny Little Tragedy (with ‘Message in a Bottle’ quote) >
  • Thorazine Shuffle (reprise)
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RatDog: 10/13/1996

After Jerry Garcia’s death on August 9, 1995, Bob Weir’s solo project RatDog, which featured Rob Wasserman on bass, became one of the regular bands for lost Deadheads to flock to. I think this might have been my first RatDog show, since I don’t recall seeing them while Jerry was still alive, but if I discover an older stub, I will certainly amend this post.

The show was originally booked at The Edge, a club in Fort Lauderdale, FL. But the venue was changed to the Sunrise Musical Theatre, presumably because tickets were in such high demand that they needed a larger location.

According to the RadDog website, a band called Low and Sweet Orchestra opened, but I have no recollection of them. In fact, I don’t remember much about this show, although I have an impression of seeing Bobby performing “Bomb’s Away” and “Blackbird” at the Sunrise. This is a common problem when you have seen as many Dead-type shows as I have. They all tend to blend together after a while, and subtle distinctions are lost.

Anyway, here’s the setlist, courtesy of the RadDog site. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • Bombs Away >
  • Salt Lake City
  • City Girls >
  • Eternity
  • Blackbird
  • Desolation Row
  • Tanqueray
  • I Know You Rider
  • Little Red Rooster
  • Minglewood Blues
  • The Winners
  • Cassidy >
  • Bass/Drums >
  • Throwing Stones

Encore:

  • Johnny B. Goode

The Raconteurs: 7/23/2019

I bought these tickets to see The Raconteurs at the Fox Theater in Oakland before we moved out to California. My wife loves the band, and I really like them too. Actually, my favorite of all Jack White’s projects. So I scored tickets and the show promptly sold out. They added a second show, but there’s something that makes a sold out show just a little more special.

Anyway, we drove to Oakland, which took a while because of rush hour traffic, but we still made it in time to grab a bite to eat before the show. After dinner, we walked to the theater, which even from the outside looked really cool.

Now I have to say that the inside of the theater was even nicer, really beautiful and ornate. Unfortunately, this was a “no phones” show, and they were hard-core. Everyone had to put their phones into these hermetically sealed pouches that could only be opened upon exiting the venue. But, if you want, you can Google the venue and there are plenty of pictures online to give you a sense of the décor.

The opening act was an artist called Lillie Mae, who is someone Jack White produced. She and her band were awesome. Totally worth checking out. Cool alternative country vibe. My wife said that they sounded like a mix between Dixie Chicks and Mazzy Star, which was pretty accurate.

After a brief intermission, The Raconteurs took the stage. We had general admission floor tickets, so we were pretty close, and I was grateful that I brought earplugs, because they were quite loud. After so many concerts, I need to protect my hearing.

What can I say about the show? They totally rocked! It was all killer and no filler. High energy, great mix of old and new stuff. The only criticism I have is that it was kind of short. Including encore, they barely played for an hour and a half. For $85 a ticket, I feel like you should get at least two hours. But beside that, it was great.

Here’s the setlist. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • Consoler of the Lonely
  • Level
  • Don’t Bother Me
  • Old Enough
  • Shine the Light on Me
  • Top Yourself
  • What’s Yours Is Mine
  • Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)
  • Broken Boy Soldier
  • Only Child
  • Help Me Stranger
  • Blue Veins

Encore:

  • Bored and Razed
  • Many Shades of Black
  • Sunday Driver
  • Steady, as She Goes

Moody Blues: 6/9/1993

I had seen the Moody Blues multiple times prior to this show, but this one was special to me on a couple levels.

First, it was the Moody Blues performing with a symphony orchestra, which may make some rock fans cringe, but I found really cool. The symphony started with an overture, and then the band took the stage and the rest was magical. As a musician, I can appreciate the complexity of orchestral arrangements, and the combination of strings, wind instruments, and rock and roll, elevated the musical experience for me and took me to new heights.

The second thing that made this show special for me was that I went with my soon-to-be wife. We were engaged to be married later that year, and somehow, the songs for me reflected the love I felt at the time (and still feel to this day). In particular, “For My Lady” made my whole being swell with emotion, and then “New Horizons,” which would be our wedding song.

So those two things alone made this a memorable concert experience. Nothing else needs to be added, except the setlist.

Setlist

  • Overture
  • Late Lament
  • Tuesday Afternoon
  • For My Lady
  • New Horizons
  • Lean on Me (Tonight)
  • Voices in the Sky
  • Say It With Love
  • Emily’s Song
  • I Know You’re Out There Somewhere
  • The Story in Your Eyes
  • Lovely to See You
  • Your Wildest Dreams
  • Isn’t Life Strange
  • 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

Grateful Dead: 3/31/1989

While this show is also fuzzy, I remember more about it than I remember from the previous night’s show. We had general admission tickets for this one, so we were on the floor, which always adds to the surreal experience. I can still envision dancing in smoke that was thick as the Mists of Avalon. A thriving mass of movement, swirling and swaying to the free-form flow of the music. And the lights seemed unusually vibrant.

I recall the second set being exceptionally good. Brent kicked it off with a killer version of “Hey Pocky Way,” which was included as part of the “So Many Roads” compilation set. Then we had “Truckin’,” “Terrapin Station,” “Morning Dew,” and “Good Lovin’,” with “Brokedown Palace” for an encore, which in my opinion is a great encore song.

Anyway, it was yet another night on the long strange trip. Here’s the full setlist.

Set 1:

  • Hell in a Bucket
  • Sugaree
  • Minglewood Blues
  • Peggy-O
  • Me and My Uncle >
  • Big River
  • Loser
  • Victim or the Crime
  • Standing on the Moon

Set 2:

  • Hey Pocky Way
  • Truckin’
  • Terrapin Station
  • Drums > Space
  • I Will Take You Home
  • All Along the Watchtower
  • Morning Dew
  • Good Lovin’

Encore:

  • Brokedown Palace

Grateful Dead: 3/30/1989

The two shows in Greensboro are somewhat blurry, but there are snippets I remember. I definitely recall hanging with my friend Nancy, and I’m pretty sure I was with my friends Jon, Julie, and Miriam, although not totally sure about that. What does stand out distinctly is the sheer chaos in the parking lot scene before each show. Way too many people, many of whom had no tickets and were looking for a miracle or just there for the party. This led to problems in a town that did not seem like it was ready to host a psychedelic circus of freaks. There was a news story where an irate resident near the coliseum expressed his dismay at the fact that someone actually squatted and took a crap on his front lawn. It really seemed like the people who were getting on the Dead caravan were losing touch with reality.

I wish I had more to share about this first night, but I don’t. I am including the setlist though, which looks like it was a good show, but again, no way for me to tell. Maybe I should give the show a listen via ETREE.

Set 1:

  • Bertha
  • Jack Straw
  • Row Jimmy
  • Blow Away
  • When I Paint My Masterpiece
  • Bird Song
  • The Promised Land

Set 2:

  • China Cat Sunflower >
  • I Know You Rider
  • Looks Like Rain
  • He’s Gone
  • Drums > Space
  • The Other One
  • Stella Blue
  • Sugar Magnolia

Encore:

  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

The Rolling Stones: 7/3/2019

I will begin this post by saying that this might just be the greatest of all my concert stories so far, and will be tough to top. As such, it is a fairly long post, but I promise you, it is worth the read.

So you may have noticed that the ticket stub has a date of May 31, 2019, which was not the date of the actual concert. If you’ve kept up with current events, you probably know that the entire No Filter tour was postponed because Mick Jagger needed heart surgery. (Who knew he had a heart?) I had bought three tickets for this show, with the intention of going with my wife and daughter. Going to this concert was actually a gift for my daughter’s birthday/graduation, since she had told me that of all the bands that were still touring, the Stones was the one she would most want to see. I suppose I’ve done my job as a rock and roll parent.

Anyway, the Stones rescheduled, and lo and behold, my wife and I had already relocated to California, a long way from Landover, Maryland, where the concert was being held. And since my wife had just started her new job, she could no longer go. So it was decided that I would fly back to North Carolina by myself, pick up my daughter, drive to Virginia, and then give the extra ticket to my nephew, at whose house we would stay. A bit of a logistical challenge, but worth it. I really wanted to make sure my daughter got to see the Stones.

Now is where the story gets really interesting.

About a week before the concert, I woke to an excited text from my daughter. She told me that she was letting people at her job know that she would be out the following week because she was going with her dad to see the Rolling Stones. One of her coworkers replied, “Oh, you’re going to see the Stones? My cousin works for the Rolling Stones. Do you want me to see about getting you backstage passes?” A quick email later, and we had three backstage passes waiting for us at will call. BACKSTAGE PASSES TO THE ROLLING STONES!! I really was having a hard time believing it. But I reread the forwarded text, which had the name of the contact should there be any issue picking up the passes or getting backstage, and was giddy with excitement.

So on July 1 I flew to NC and met my daughter. July 2, the two of us drove 8 hours to VA and connected with my nephew (who is the same age as my daughter and they get along great). Then it was July 3, the day of the show.

FedEx Field, the stadium which is home to the Washington Redskins, was about 30 miles from where we were in VA. The concert was scheduled to start at 7:30, so we left the house at 3:30 to give us plenty of time. I was unprepared for the traffic we encountered. It literally took us 2 ½ hours to get to the stadium. I was trying hard to be cool.

We paid the exorbitant $60 to park, and inquired about where the will call window was located. I was told there were two, one on each side of the stadium. Not knowing where the passes would be, I picked the one that was closest and we got in line. And we stood there. And stood there. The line was not moving and people were freaking out. I later discovered it was because the computers were not working and no one who had tickets at will call could get the tickets they paid for. Now I was feeling worried, because if I got to the window and the passes were on the other side of the stadium, we might have a problem. As I was discussing this with my daughter and nephew, someone near us in line, who was more observant than myself, pointed out that there was another will call window off to the side with a sign that said “Band/Tour Will Call” and suggested I go there. So I did. I walked right up and told the person there that I was supposed to be picking up backstage passes and gave him my name. “I have nothing for that name,” he informed me.

I responded, “C**** was the person who was supposed to give us those.”

“I just spoke with C**** and he didn’t say anything. But I can call him.”

So the guy made a call from his cellphone, I watched as he spoke and nodded, then he took two passes from the drawer and slid them under the window to me. I felt a twinge of panic and meekly mentioned that there was supposed to be three, and he casually got the third and passed it to me. And in my hand I held three backstage passes to the Rolling Stones.

I met back up with my daughter and nephew, and we each affixed our passes.

Right next to the window where I got the passes was the special VIP entrance. We walked up, they looked at our credentials, and we breezed in. Then they scanned our tickets (yes, we still needed the tickets we bought), and were escorted to an elevator that brought us up to the fifth floor. From there, we were led to the VIP lounge that looked down on the back of the stage. Free food and beverages were provided, so we ate and rehydrated, while milling around and chatting with people there.

Now I had never been backstage before, so prior to heading out there, I consulted with a friend of mine, Bill, who is a music journalist, just to know what to expect. He said for show like this, we probably would not meet Keith or Mick. They provide catering, and then usually one of the lesser band members comes out for a quick meet and greet before the show. So in this case, that band member was Chuck Leavell, long-time keyboardist for the Stones, who was also a member of the Allman Brothers in the 70’s. We got to meet him, and he was really nice and accommodating, graciously posing for a picture with the three of us.

At this point, the opening act, Ghost Hounds, had already been playing for a while, so we decided to leave the air conditioned comfort and go take our seats. By the time we got to section 431 in the upper deck, the opening band was playing their last song.

Although we were in the upper deck, the seats were not bad, and we had a decent view of the stage. We chatted with the folks around us as we waited for the Stones to take the stage.

Finally, the lights went down, and they exploded onto the stage, opening with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Great choice! For a group of guys who have survived over 70 years of hard living, and Mick just having heart surgery, they sounded damn good and had a lot of energy.

About halfway through the show, the band moved to a smaller satellite stage in the center and played a couple acoustic tunes, which was great, because then we had an even better view of the band.

All the while, I was noticing how much fun my daughter and nephew were having, and I felt really happy. I was glad that they were enjoying the show, and after going backstage and meeting one of the band members, I knew that this would be a special memory for them both.

But wait… things were about to get infinitely better.

About 2/3 through the show, the band was playing “Miss You” and my daughter was standing up and dancing. She was the only person standing in our section, and I was glad that people around us were not being jerks about it. But then some official looking dude with a lanyard and badge came up to us and waved my daughter closer. The two of them leaned across me so I heard the conversation.

Dude: “How many are in your group?”

Daughter: “Three…” (tentatively, like she was in trouble)

Dude: “Well I only have two passes to go up front. I’m with the band and am looking for someone in the upper decks who is dancing and enjoying the show so I can bring them up front, but I only have two wristbands. Do you want to go up front?”

I looked at my daughter and nephew, not wanting to split them up, or send them off alone, and asked the guy, “You don’t have three?”

“Nope,” he said, “Only two. Do you want them? I can take you up front right now.”

At this point, my nephew spoke up. “Go! Go! This is your chance. I’ll stay here.”

So we promised to come back up and get him afterwards, and went off with the dude who handed each of us a very official looking wristband.

The dude told us we would go up front on Keith’s side of the stage, that this was the best spot to be for the rest of the show. While we were going down, we could hear “Paint It Black” being played, the one song we missed, but a worthwhile sacrifice. We told the dude that C**** had also given us backstage passes, and he was like, “Oh cool, I know C**** really well.” And as we quickly made our way down to the front, my daughter kept looking at me, eyes wide, commenting, “What the fuck? How is this happening? I feel like I’m dreaming.”

We finally got down by the pit right in front, and the security did not want to let my daughter and me through. The dude started yelling at the security guy, flashing his badge, and then he waved someone else over, who said something to the security person, and just like that, we were right in front of the stage. The dude said his farewell, went off, and my daughter and I danced and basked in the glory of seeing the world’s greatest rock and roll band from a vantage point that few have experienced. Of course, I had to snap a few pictures on the phone.

We were up front for the last five songs, which was basically the last quarter of the 20-song show. I’ve been to many concerts in my life, but none of them compared to this experience, of being backstage and then essentially front row, for the Rolling Stones. And the fact that I shared the experience with my daughter, and the look of sheer ecstatic joy on her face, made the whole night seem like nothing less than a rock and roll fantasy come true. Miracles really do happen.

After the last note of “Satisfaction,” my daughter and I made it back upstairs and had no problem reconnecting with my nephew. Then we made our way to the car, sat in the traffic getting out of the stadium parking area, and made the drive back to Virginia with no problems, basically basking in the afterglow of the most epic concert experience ever.

I still have a drawer full of old stubs with stories associated to them, and more concerts on the horizon, but I doubt that I will ever be able to top this one. I suppose the only thing I can add at this point is the setlist. And yes, I know, it’s only rock and roll, but I like it, like it, yes I do!

Setlist:

  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash
  • It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
  • Tumbling Dice
  • You Got Me Rocking
  • Mercy, Mercy (Don Covay & The Goodtimers cover, first time performed since July 5, 1969 at Hyde Park)
  • Rocks Off (by request)
  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  • Angie (B-Stage / Acoustic)
  • Let It Bleed (B-Stage / Acoustic)
  • Sympathy for the Devil
  • Honky Tonk Women
  • Slipping Away (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
  • Before They Make Me Run (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
  • Miss You
  • Paint It Black
  • Midnight Rambler
  • Start Me Up
  • Brown Sugar

Encore:

  • Gimme Shelter
  • (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction