David Bromberg: 11/9/1989

Since some of you might not be familiar with David Bromberg, I figured I would share his bio from Wikipedia.

David Bromberg (born September 19, 1945) is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter. An eclectic artist, Bromberg plays bluegrass, blues, folk, jazz, country and western, and rock and roll. He is known for his quirky, humorous lyrics, and the ability to play rhythm and lead guitar at the same time.

Bromberg has played with many famous musicians, including Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, Jorma Kaukonen, Jerry Garcia, Rusty Evans (The Deep) and Bob Dylan. He co-wrote the song “The Holdup” with former Beatle George Harrison, who played on Bromberg’s self-titled 1972 album. In 2008, he was nominated for a Grammy Award. Bromberg is known for his fingerpicking style that he learned from Reverend Gary Davis.

(Source: Wikipedia)

So as you can see, he is no slouch. This was actually the second time I had seen Bromberg. I went with my dad to see him in the 70’s at Avery Fisher Hall in New York (alas – I do not have that stub). When I saw he was coming to Tobacco Road, I figured I had to go see him again, since the Road was the perfect place for his style of music.

Tobacco Road was a famous blues bar on the Miami River that was a speakeasy in the time of prohibition, and was the oldest bar in Miami until it was demolished on October 26, 2014. So it was a regular haunt for me and my music-loving friends. This particular night I went with my friends Todd and Craig. The place was packed, and the music was incredible. Seeing Bromberg in this venue was really something special.

I could not find a setlist from this particular show, but found a generic setlist from 1989.

Generic 1989 Bromberg Setlist:

  • Brown’s Ferry Blues / There’s No Business Like Show Business
  • Framed
  • Chump Man Blues
  • Keep On Drinkin’
  • I Like to Sleep Late in the Morning
  • Summer Wages
  • Stagger Lee
  • I’ll Take You Back
  • First I Look at the Purse
  • Midnight Hour Blues
  • Sharon

Encore:

  • Fiddle Medley
  • Delia’s Gone

Bob Dylan: 11/12/2016

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So yes, this is one of those crappy print-at-home ticket stubs, but I am psyched to have it.

I had not intended to go to this show. It was expensive and I had seen Dylan multiple times already. I thought it would be nice to take my daughter to see Dylan, but not for $300 (figure about $100 per ticket). So I passed, and Dylan won the Nobel Prize, and the concert sold out. Oh well.

On November 12, my wife and I were shopping at the mall. I was trying on clothes at Old Navy when she texted me: “A friend of a friend has three tickets to Bob Dylan tonight that she is giving away for free. Should we take them?” Of course, my response was: “Ummm… YEAH!” So the person transferred the electronic tickets to us, we printed them out when we got home, and my wife, daughter, and I were heading to see Bob Dylan… for free!

This was a very different show than any of the other times I had seen Dylan. He played no guitar at all. He played piano, or else he stood at a microphone and just sang. He did play harmonica on one song, “Tangled Up in Blue,” which was awesome. He also played “Highway 61 Revisited,” which is probably my all-time favorite Dylan tune.

Performance wise, Dylan sounded better than any other time I had seen him. I expected him to sound wretched at best, but he was actually in key and you could make out the lyrics. It was kind of strange, but in a good way. He also played longer than any other time I had seen him. I expected maybe an hour and 15 minutes, based on prior experience, but he played a good two hours. All in all, a great show, and I was really happy that I was able to take my daughter to see the legend himself.

Here is the entire setlist from the show.


Things Have Changed

Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

Highway 61 Revisited

Beyond Here Lies Nothin’

Full Moon and Empty Arms

Pay In Blood

Melancholy Mood

Duquesne Whistle

Love Sick

Tangled Up In Blue

High Water (For Charley Patton)

Why Try To Change Me Now

Early Roman Kings

I Could Have Told You

Desolation Row

Soon After Midnight

All Or Nothing At All

Long And Wasted Years

Autumn Leaves

ENCORE:

Blowin’ In The Wind

Stay With Me

Fantastic Negrito: 10/16/2016

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I discovered Fantastic Negrito while listening to a Studio 360 podcast while driving. I was so blown away by his story and the power of his music, I immediately downloaded his album, The Last Days of Oakland. Every song was amazing and he catapulted to the top of my favorite-new-artist list. So when my friend Bill told me he was coming to Asheville to perform, I immediately went out and purchased tickets.

Fantastic Negrito (real name Xavier Dphrepaulezz) has an amazing story, one worth reading about. My friend Bill interviewed Negrito and published the story in the Mountain XPress (click here to read article). I encourage you to check it out.

Negrito played at the Asheville Music Hall, an intimate venue that allowed me to get close to the stage. I went with my friend Greg, and we met Bill and his wife Audrey there, so it was great hanging out with close friends.

Often times, when you have high expectations about a musical act, they can fail to meet those expectations. But that was not the case with Fantastic Negrito. His band was tight, energetic, and inspiring on so many levels. After the performance, all I wanted to do was create and express myself artistically.

In an effort to support him, I decided to purchase a vinyl copy of his album, even though I had the digital version through Apple Music. Xavier came out afterwards and mingled with the audience, graciously giving autographs and talking with fans. I got him to sign my album and let him know how inspiring he was. If you get an opportunity to see him, I strongly encourage you to do so.

To close, I want to mention that Fantastic Negrito was the overall winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. Click here to see that performance, and be inspired!

Billy Joel: 3/4/1987

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So, there was something really cool about this concert, I mean, seeing Billy Joel in the 80’s was cool, but something specific about this show. This was actually the third night that he performed at the Hollywood Sportatorium on the tour, and the reason was that the first show sold out in minutes and scalpers bought up a lot of the tickets. So Joel announced he would keep adding shows so that everyone could get tickets and scalpers would get stuck with their tickets. To me, that is the epitome of cool. Billy Joel earned my respect that day and it never wavered.

Anyway, after the first two shows sold out, my girlfriend Ruth and I got tickets to the third concert. She was a huge Billy Joel fan, so it was really exciting for her to see him live.

The concert was excellent. Even in the Sporto, which was notorious for its horrible acoustics, he sounded great. The crowd was engaged and Billy was energetic. And while there were some songs I would have liked to hear that he didn’t play (“Captain Jack” in particular), his set was solid and I left totally happy.

I found the setlist online, so here it is.

Setlist:

A Matter of Trust

Pressure

You’re Only Human (Second Wind)

Piano Man

Scenes From an Italian Restaurant

Allentown

Goodnight Saigon

Prelude/Angry Young Man

Until the Night

Big Man on Mulberry Street

Baby Grand

An Innocent Man

The Longest Time

Only the Good Die Young

It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me

Sometimes a Fantasy

You May Be Right

Uptown Girl

Tell Her About It

Keeping the Faith

Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)

Big Shot

Brian Wilson: 8/18/2016

BrianWilson_8-18-16

The Beach Boys were responsible for the soundtrack to some of my more memorable summers growing up. We would have pool parties at this girl Wendy’s house and play spin the bottle and truth or dare while the Beach Boys constantly crooned through the stereo. And while I had seen the Beach Boys twice before this show, neither time had Brian Wilson, so this concert was a real treat and more than just a trip down memory lane.

This tour marked the 50th anniversary of the release of the album Pet Sounds, which is an amazing work of art. For the tour, Wilson also recruited two other Beach Boys: Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin. In addition, nine other musicians shared the stage, bringing the total to twelve that I was able to count. One of them, Al Jardine’s son, was an incredible vocalist and soared on all the high harmony parts.

I went with my wife and we had decent seats in the balcony to the left of the stage, so we could see quite well. The sound was balanced and clear, and the band was very tight. They started promptly around 8:00, no opening act, and played a nice set that included standard surf and car songs (California Girls, Surfer Girl, Shut Down, etc.). Then they took a break before coming back to play Pet Sounds in its entirety.

Before playing “God Only Knows” (one of my favorite Beach Boys’ songs), Brian told the audience that it was the best song he’d ever written. Almost brought a tear to my eye, because it was always a moving song, but knowing that the artist must have poured his soul into it makes it all the more special.

After Pet Sounds, the band played a nice long encore of about six songs, including “Good Vibrations,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “Fun Fun Fun,” and “Surfin’ USA.” By the time they took their final bow together, I was so moved and musically satisfied, I could not think of a single other song I would have wanted to hear.

I think that the most inspiring part of the concert was the fact that Brian Wilson, despite his personal issues, was able to get on stage and perform, and that his friends who joined him were totally supportive of him. You could sense it. Brian had his moments, where he sat at the piano and looked around, or obsessively checked his watch over and over and over, but no one minded and he was still able to pour out his emotion through the music. It affirmed what I have always known, that music has the power to heal and inspire.

I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I’ll make you so sure about it

God only knows what I’d be without you

Death Cab For Cutie: 6/11/2016

DeathCab_6-11-16

This concert almost didn’t happen. After the NC government passed HB2 which discriminates against transgender persons, the band considered joining the ranks of other artists who are boycotting the state. But instead, they decided to turn the concert into a benefit show, giving the proceeds to two groups: Southerners on New Ground and The Freedom Center for Social Justice. I applaud the band’s decision.

I went to the show with my wife and daughter, which was really nice. Going to a concert with the ones you love is really bonding and makes the concert all the more special.

We arrived a little late and the opening act, Pure Bathing Culture, was already playing. We got to see most of their set, though. They were pretty good. They had the mellow alternative sound going on, sort of like The Cranberries or 10,000 Maniacs. While I’m not rushing out to buy their album, they were enjoyable as an opener.

Before Death Cab came out, Ben Gibbard, the lead singer, came out and talked to the crowd, explaining why they are “not not here.” He said they decided to not follow their contemporaries and instead make it a benefit show. He brought members of the action groups on stage and introduced them, and the groups pledged to work hard to overturn this heinous law.

Shortly afterwards, the lights went down and the music started. Wow! They were awesome! I liked their studio music, but I have to say, Death Cab For Cutie is one of those bands that are better live than on record. The sound was impeccable. Perfectly balanced and just the right volume. They played about two hours and there were no weak spots. It was all great.

DCFC
Photo I took from the concert.

I hope other artists follow suit and book benefit shows to help overturn HB2. It’s important to know that North Carolina is home to a lot of progressive and open-minded people. It saddens me that a small group of individuals in positions of political power are able to pass legislation that discriminates against people in this state. Anyway, for those of you interested in getting involved, here are the links to the organizations that Death Cab are supporting.

southernersonnewground.org

www.fcsj.org

Barack the Vote: 4/17/2008 (w Arrested Development; and Abigail Washburn, Ben Sollee, and Bela Fleck)

BarackTheVote2008

One of the cool things about living in Asheville is that it boasts a truly eclectic music scene. That is evidenced by the mix of music at this fundraiser concert for Barack Obama. We had hip hop combined with acoustic music that included the great Bela Fleck on banjo. Those two styles are about as far apart on the spectrum as they come, but somehow, it all seemed to fit together well.

There was a diverse group of people at this show, individuals of all ages, races, and orientations. And for me, that was the coolest thing about this concert. I remember everybody dancing together, a total blending of individuals. It made me feel really happy to live in this community.

I don’t have much more to share about this concert. Honestly, I was mainly focused on the social aspects, and really, that is one of the great things about live music. It is a social experience.

B.B. King: 1/14/2012

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I feel pretty fortunate that in my life I have seen many great blues artists, and I am really glad I managed to see B.B. King before he passed away in 2015.

I got to see him at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in Asheville, and although he was showing his age physically, he was still magic on stage. He did not play for a very long time, but it was the quality and not the quantity of the music that stands out for me.

I could try to expound on how influential he was, and how talented he was, but I would only be rehashing what everyone already knows. So instead, I will let the music do the talking. Here is a great video clip that my friend Robert took from this concert. Thanks B.B. for all your great music, and the thrill lives on.

James Taylor: 10/19/2008

JamesTaylor_10-19-08

This ticket is from a free concert that James Taylor gave in Asheville as part of the Obama for President Campaign in 2008. I had never seen James Taylor before, so I was pretty psyched, and my wife was equally excited. We had to get tickets from the campaign headquarters, and we also got some for our two daughters. This made it all the more special, since it was the first concert that we were taking our youngest to.

There was a huge line, and we waited a long time to get in to the park where the concert was being held. The crowd seemed pretty diverse, which I thought was cool. There was definitely a lot of excitement, both regarding the performance and the prospect of having the country’s first African-American president.

The concert was good, but very crowded and not well organized. But I can’t complain; it was free and for a good cause. At one point, I took my daughter close to the stage so she could see better. Taylor played a relatively short set, but did all his hits. Honestly, I could not think of a song that I had wanted to hear that he didn’t play.

All in all, it was a great show and I felt inspired afterwards, and it was another time when live music made for a great family bonding experience.