Concerts I have seen

Inspired by the Reverend Fiesta, here’s the list of all the (non-classical) concerts I’ve gone to, as far as I can remember. I thought I had written down this list once before, but am not finding it, so here we go. Links go to set lists if the Internet has them, or to blog posts by me if not. In many cases I was at these shows with people who I can’t remember; mea culpa. In fact, I’m also sure that I’m forgetting some shows I went to, so this will be a live page.

Sting, Nothing Like the Sun tour, William and Mary Hall, January 29, 1988. My very first show. I remember very little from the performances, just how amazing it was to be there.

10,000 Maniacs (Lone Justice opening), William and Mary Hall, 1989. The “Blind Man’s Buff” tour, I went to this with my sister and with Unchu Ko.

Branford Marsalis, Waterside, Norfolk, August 18, 1989. Honestly, all I remember about this performance is how hot it was, how interesting the jazz was, and how quiet the crowd was.

Paul McCartney, Flowers in the Dirt tour, RFK Stadium, 1990. With my sister and Christina, a long long drive in a non-air-conditioned 1970s Cutlass Supreme. But “Live and Let Die” in that stadium was incredible.

Don Henley, End of the Innocence tour, Virginia Beach, 1990. With my sister and Pam, I think. And I remember Don Henley sitting down at the drums for “Hotel California.”

Wynton Marsalis, Albemarle High School, 1990. Mostly what I remember about this show is mutes: how many Wynton brought, how much he used them. There was very little about his sound with this band that didn’t rely on mutes in some fashion or other.

Sting, The Soul Cages tour, Hampton Coliseum, 1991. On a bus from the University of Virginia. I remember he played a cover of “Purple Haze,” but not much of the rest of the show.

Hall and Oates, Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, July 4, 1991. A special festival to welcome returning Gulf War I troops.

Paul Simon, Rhythm of the Saints tour, Hersheypark, 1991. A fun show, with my sister, and, I think, my aunt.

UVA Jazzfest, 1992: Max Roach, Jackie McLean Quartet, Jack DeJohnette’s New Directions with Lester Bowie, Mingus Dynasty. Yeah, it was an amazing, amazing weekend.

Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes tour, Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia, September 7, 1992. I wandered into the hall for Glee Club rehearsal one night and there was a ticket sales desk. I had heard the show was happening but assumed it would be sold out. I got a ticket and went to the show after rehearsal. It was amazing. So intense. There’s more to the story of the show; another time…

Sting, Summoner’s Tales tour, May 30, 1993, Richmond. With my sister, Christina and Jeremy. In which we sat close enough to the front that we were able to make the band do double takes with our ability to head-bob in 7/4 time.

They Might Be Giants at Trax, Charlottesville, VA, September 24, 1993. The TMBWiki says that Pere Ubu opened for them. I don’t remember that, but I do remember my sister and Derek Ramsey being there with me.

UVA Jazzfest, 1993:Elvin Jones Jazz Machine with Ravi Coltrane, Roy Haynes. There were other bands but I split the tickets with Bernie Fallon and so never got to see Archie Shepp. But Roy Haynes was a great show, and Elvin was amazing.

UVA Jazzfest, 1994: Milt Hinton, Dave Holland, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra.

Tori Amos, Under the Pink tour, Richmond, July 24, 1994. A less intimate and more upbeat show than the OCH one, but that’s to be expected given that the first show was in an 800 person venue. Much of the show was still in the acoustic vibe, though, which made the sudden transitions to full band on songs like “God” and “Cornflake Girl” kind of jarring.

Love Spit Love, free show, Washington DC, 1994. Just Richard Butler and a guitarist, and the crowd was completely quiet except for one hippie dancer, who only danced during the radio single “Am I Wrong.”

Shannon Worrell, summer 1994, Charlottesville. I’m not sure exactly when I saw this show, at an outdoor front porch venue with Matt Vanderzalm, but I’m pretty sure it was after the release of her first album, and I had already seen her play a couple of sets at various Corner venues with Kristin Asbury.

Cracker, Waterside, Norfolk, VA, 1996. Free show; attended with Jon Finn.

Sonic Youth, A Thousand Leaves tour, 9:30 Club, May 6, 1998. With Craig Pfeifer. I was so not ready for how brilliant this show was.

Liz Phair, whitechocolatespaceegg tour, 9:30 Club, October 7, 1998. I remember very little about this show except that Liz seemed like she was in complete control and enjoying the hell out of herself.el

Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, Nissan Pavilion, July 16, 1999. How weird that I remember so little of this show, except for the superb version of “Tangled Up in Blue” that I could have sworn was the opening number but the set list says was 4th. They dueted on “The Sound of Silence.”

Parliament/Funkadelic All Stars, 9:30 Club, November 13, 1999. With Craig Pfeifer. I’m pretty sure it was this show I saw and not one of their two shows at the 9:30 Club in 1998. What an amazing performance, and I couldn’t even stay for the whole thing.

Beck with Beth Orton, Patriot Hall, George Mason University, February 19, 2000. Can I get with you and your sister? I think her name’s Debra. And Beth Orton’s brutally cute penguin joke (“Why do penguins walk softly?”). With Craig Pfeifer.

Twinemen, Mr. Airplane Man, Mark Sandman Tribute, Cambridge, August 2000. An interesting afternoon of local musicians paying tribute to the recently deceased frontman of Morphine, at an outdoor venue near the Middle East club in Central Square.

Spain with Miranda Lee Richards, the Crocodile Club, June 15, 2001. With Arvind and Kim.

Radiohead, Amnesiac tour, The Gorge, Washington, June 23 2001. With Lisa.

Isaac Hayes, Blind Boys of Alabama, Youssou N’Dour, Kathryn Tickell, DJ Peretz, the Neville Brothers, Peter Gabriel, Afro Celt Sound System; WOMAD, August 2001. I wrote extensively about this show back in the day.

Ani DiFranco, Bumbershoot, August 31, 2002. Does being in the same outdoor performance venue as the performance count? I only caught a few songs of this one.

Sonic Youth with Modest Mouse, Bumbershoot, September 1, 2002.

Pernice Brothers with Jose Ayerve, Sparrow, and Warren Zanes, the Tractor, July 11, 2003.

New Pornographers, Bumbershoot, September 1, 2003.

Wilco, Bumbershoot, September 1, 2003.

R.E.M., Bumbershoot, September 1, 2003.

Lou Reed, Moore Theater, June 29, 2003. This is essentially the show that was presented on the Lou Reed: Animal Serenade live album.

Elvis Costello, Benaroya Hall, March 8, 2004. I had completely forgotten about this show.

Sonic Youth, Showbox, July 19, 2004.

PJ Harvey, Avalon, October 9, 2004.

Pixies and Mission of Burma, Tsongas Center, December 2, 2004.

Justin Rosolino, Club Passim, December 13, 2004.

Sonny Rollins, Tanglewood, September 5, 2005.

Neko Case, Willard Theatre, April 5, 2006.

Elvis Costello with Marian McPartland and Diana Krall, Tanglewood Jazz Festival, September 2, 2006. I went to this show and never wrote about it, which is a shame because it’s the last non-classical performance I went to for almost nine years.

Bruce Hornsby, Cary Memorial Hall, October 17, 2015.

The Chieftains, Chevalier Theatre, Medford, March 1, 2017.

Branford Marsalis Quartet with Kurt Elling, Cary Memorial Hall, April 28, 2017.

Pixies, House of Blues, Boston, May 20, 2017. With Cymbals Eat Guitars.

Mavis Staples, Cary Memorial Hall, June 2, 2017.

Finding no takers

WaltKelly_VirginiaSpectator_Feb1952_100

Doing my look back post, I found one link I never followed up, in which I talked about a plan to restore the Pavilion gardens (wonder what happened to that?), and noted a rare Walt Kelly cover for the Virginia Spectator that I had seen reproduced in black and white but not (yet) in color. In the intervening years, fantastic Pogo blog Whirled of Kelly posted a high resolution scan of the cover, which I include here to close the loop on my reference all those years ago.

This is one of two issues of the University of Virginia’s magazine (variously titled the Spectator, the Virginia University Magazine, etc.) for which I would pay a high high price. The other, of course, would be a copy of the January 1871 edition that gives us the founding date for the Virginia Glee Club.

Today in my blogging history

I sometimes forget to take a look back at things I’ve written—forgivable if you ignore the almost fifteen years of blog history here. For all that, my beats have remained relatively steady, as a look back at March 30 in my blog’s history reveals. Going backward, we have:

That strange fragile feeling

This has been a winter of illness, unusually so for me. Between Thanksgiving and New Years I was down for almost six weeks with a hacking cough that started with a week of fever and was so hard-pressed to clear stuff from my lungs that I ended up fracturing (or at least pulling) a rib. And now at the end of the winter or beginning of spring I was laid low for several days with another fever + upper respiratory condition, just in time for Easter.

And man, I had forgotten how logy I get when I have a fever. I’m three days on from the last fever and still tired around the edges.

It reminds me of the summer after my third year at the University of Virginia. I had just finished my first summer away from home, doing a lab internship, and I headed back to my family home and slept. For like a day. That in itself was not so unusual, but the fever was. The doctor confirmed that I had finally contracted mono. My third year roommate had had a bad case of it before we went home for break, so apparently it incubated over the summer and then started out slowly.

The end result was brutal. I had enough energy to do a few things, if I forced myself, but then had to sleep for hours. I pulled myself together well enough to get back to the University of Virginia, where the truly painful part of the sickness revealed itself: I was going to have to tough it out without air conditioning, since I was living that fall in a Lawn room in Mr. Jefferson’s original part of the University Grounds. So there were a great many afternoons spent exhausted, sweating, sleepless. And, reinforcing the ambience, I was reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s The General In His Labyrinth, about Simón Bolívar’s dying journey down the Magdalena River. Languishing in the August (and September) Charlottesville heat, I felt as the Liberator must have felt.

I still feel little echoes of that day any time I spend more than a few days sick, as though I’m preparing to return to that sweat-dampened bed with barely enough energy to stand. At this point in my life I know that one day, I hope many years from now, it’ll be a return for good. These illnesses, inconsequential as they are, are just brief glimpses of that ultimate end.

—And that’s why men have a reputation for being bad patients.

Eastertide

Geese at Peepers Pond.

Geese at Peepers Pond. Full size at Flickr.

Another Easter has come and gone. This year I was sick, with a bad cold that came on suddenly after our first performance of the Kancheli “Dixi” and didn’t abate until partway through the day… after I had sung two services at church. There is something restorative about singing the Hallelujah Chorus, if it doesn’t kill you first.

I’ve been thinking a little about something one of our student ministers said yesterday to the children. He talked about Easter and the opening of the cave as a promise from God to us that we can all have that resurrection experience—not just in the context of literal resurrection, but as a second chance, as the removal of the metaphorical stone keeping us in whatever cave we currently occupy. I think about that as I look out on a cold, drizzly spring morning. I’d like to find some sunshine.

Cocktail recipe: Woodsy Owl

The Woodsy Owl

It’s a concert week, so I thought in lieu of a proper blog post I’d share this cocktail recipe I invented a year or so ago. Enjoy!

This is the Woodsy Owl. It’s a little like an Allen Cocktail, but the combination of sweet vermouth and Cardamaro gives a slightly sweet herbal flavor to what would otherwise be a less bitter variation on the Negroni.

Woodsy Owl

  • 1 oz gin (recommend Plymouth)
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz Cardamaro

Combine and stir over ice. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lemon peel (optional).

It’s about Sorry

I’ve been making more of an effort to write about music and recently accepted a challenge to post an 80s song a day on Facebook. This post (which I’m posting a day late, but which was actually written on the 23rd) comes from that effort.

I was listening to this track with The Boy today. He asked, “What’s this song about?”

I replied, “Well, I’m not sure. He sings about waiting for a call, and about choices, and says he’s sorry. But he lets us make up our own minds about what the song is about.”

The Boy said firmly, “It’s about Sorry.”

I said, “Yes, it’s about Sorry.”

And then we talked about apologies, and what it means to accept an apology.

Thanks for that, Michael Stipe.

RIP Andy Grove

Andy Grove, courtesy Esquire
Andy Grove, courtesy Esquire

CNN: Andy Grove, former Intel CEO and personal computing pioneer, dead at 79. It’s worth taking a second this morning to think about why we remember what Andy Grove did when other pioneers of silicon are mostly forgotten.

Motorola, Texas Instruments and others built chips. Andy built an ecosystem.

While Wintel may rightly be regarded as an example of a noxious monoculture, mostly because of the Windows side of the equation, Andy recognized the potential for personal computers and ensured that they would run on his chips. And he recognized that Wintel was only one ecosystem that could have been built with Intel as its foundation—witness his convincing Steve Jobs to shift the architecture of Macs away from PowerPC to Intel chips in 2006.

I had an opportunity during the 2001 MIT Sloan Tech Trek to meet Andy. He spoke with a bunch of MBA students for a few minutes, and took questions. He struck me as a long thinker, so I asked him a long thought question: how long could Moore’s Law continue to hold before the physics of small matter caused it to bottom out? He was airy as he said it was a “20 year problem.” And he was right: he knew that there was plenty of room to continue innovating on the silicon. He didn’t say it, but I suppose he was more focused on the business of the ecosystem; even then you could read the writing on the wall that the antitrust suit, a resurgent Apple, and mobile computing were about to take the wind out of Microsoft’s sails.

I don’t know that I’ll ever get to talk to a more brilliant man (not counting Bill Gates, but I never got a chance to ask him any questions as an intern). Rest in peace.

Happy first day of spring

first_day_of_spring

After a warmish winter, it seems only appropriate that we got about five inches of snow on the first day of spring. We are hardy souls, though, and have already dug out and sent the kids to school (albeit two hours late).

There are other signs of spring, too, like the imminent arrival of the orchestra rehearsals for this week’s performance of the Kancheli “Dixi” with the Boston Symphony. More to come…

Friday Random 5: Because snow edition

It’s spring today and going to be winter on Sunday as we gear up for another foot of snow via a late-season northeaster. Time for a Random 5!

  1. Blue 7Sonny Rollins (Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz)
  2. Ekta Deshlai Kathi Jalao (Light a Match)Asha Bhosle & Kronos Quartet (Songs from R.D. Burman’s Bollywood)
  3. In Christ There Is No East or WestMavis Staples (You Are Not Alone)
  4. Stop This WorldDiana Krall (The Girl in the Other Room)
  5. Virginia Yell Song (live)Virginia Glee Club (Songs of Virginia)

Blue 7: This is the second time this track has figured in a Random n post, but since the last time was nine years ago I’ll allow it. Two notes: this was the compilation that I bought, excited to take Scott Deveaux’s History of Jazz class at UVa, and then disappointed that I had to drop the class because it conflicted with a required lab. And Rollins was absolutely  incandescent when I saw him at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival back in the early 00’s. Here’s hoping that I have that level of presence and acuity when I’m his age.

Ekta Deshlai Kathi Jalao: A simply great collaboration with the Kronos Quartet. You can listen to this happily without knowing that a great many of the songs are about marijuana.

In Christ There Is No East or West: Not as transcendental as the Grand Banks version, and not one of the most spectacular fruits of her Jeff Tweedy produced works, but still great. A slow burn that’s buoyed up by the arrangement.

Stop This World: A former coworker of mine who was a local jazz DJ was underimpressed with this album, done in collaboration with Krall’s future husband Elvis Costello, because it saw her leaving the strict jazz repertoire and exploring blues and pop song forms. I love it for the same reason.

Virginia Yell Song (live): The loudest rendition of Linwood Lehman’s UVA football song on record, featuring the Glee Club with the University of Virginia Marching Band in the small confines of Old Cabell Hall. The Club singing in unison so they can be heard over the band gives a small flavor of what it must have sounded like back in the day that students sang at football games.

Where is James K. Polk when you need him?

CNBC: We choose the nominee, not the voters: Senior GOP official. Get out your popcorn; the GOP convention is shaping up to be a real doozy. And with Trump himself saying about the likelihood of a brokered convention, “I think there’d be riots,” it’s clear that the possibility of an out of the ordinary nominee selection process is not far from his mind.

Has there ever been an election this, with disagreement over so many issues in play? Well, I’d argue for 1844. With the Democrats split between the Van Buren wing of the party who opposed the annexation of Texas as a slave state, and the Andrew Jackson wing who strongly supported it, the deadlock between Van Buren and Henry Clay (both opposed to annexation) left the path open for a “dark horse” candidate to be nominated. That candidate was James K. Polk, who strongly supported the annexation of Texas specifically and the “manifest destiny” expansion of the United States generally.

So what’s the analogy? I’d argue the open racism and ignorant nativism of Trump and Cruz has left the door open for a more moderate Republican dark horse. But maybe that’s wishful thinking and Trump will show up at the convention with all 1,237 delegates he needs to take the nomination outright.

To offset that grim future, here’s a little They Might Be Giants to refresh you on the history lesson above!

Old music Wednesday

It’s been a crazy week as the house (and our children) adapt (poorly) to daylight savings time. So I’m cheaping out on the blog today but using the opportunity to plug a few things that I listened to in my “dark period” and want to remember and come back to. I listened to both these KEXP in studio sessions via their Live Performances podcast and only later found out that they were also available via their YouTube feeds. Note: Until I get the blog redesigned, you’ll need to embiggen the videos to actually watch them; sorry!

Lavender Diamond: The amazing voice of Becky Sharp. Some of the production on their 2012 album teeters on precious, but I keep coming back to this live performance that strips all the veneer off the songs and leaves them raw and beautiful. The second song in, “Everybody’s Heart’s Breaking Now,” is legitimately heartbreaking.

Dum Dum Girls: Completely different sort of band and sound. Dee Dee comes across as Siouxsie via Mazzy Star in this in studio, but the fun here is the sound and the interplay between the band members.

What’s at stake in the FBI iPhone case? Your privacy and safety.

NPR: Encryption, Privacy Are Larger Issues Than Fighting Terrorism, Clarke Says. With all due respect to Richard Clarke, who sits on the board of my employer and who has been on the right side of arguments about cybersecurity for about 20 years: of course they are. Of course, the correction should probably be aimed at NPR’s Writer of Breathless Headlines.

As I’ve written before, it’s ironic that a federal government that can’t secure its own systems is presuming to dictate terms of secure computer design. What explains it is a continued reliance on magical thinking: a supposition that, if we try hard enough, we can overcome any barrier. In this case, the barrier is the ability to offer a secret backdoor to law enforcement in an encryption technology without endangering all other users of that encryption technology. Sadly, President Obama appears to subscribe to this magical thinking:

If, technologically, it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong that there’s no key – there’s no door at all – then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?

The whole point of cryptography that works is that there’s no door at all for unauthorized users. If you put one in, you have to put the key somewhere, and you open yourself up to having it stolen, or having someone figure out how to get in. And if you ask for a special version of an operating system that can unlock a locked iPhone, you end up with software that can be applied without restriction to every locked phone, by the government, by the next 100 world governments that ask for access to it, and by whoever manages to breach federal computers and steal the software for their own use.

This would be a fun theoretical exercise, as it mostly was back in the days of the Clipper Chip debates, were it not for the vast businesses that are built on secure commerce, protected by cryptography; the lives of dissidents in totalitarian countries who seek to protect their speech and thoughts with cryptography; the national secrets that are protected by cryptography; the electronic assets of device users everywhere that are protected from criminals by cryptography. But because of all those things, to propose to compel a computer manufacturer to embed a back door system—or worse, to turn over their intellectual property to the government so that they can add such a feature.

And Clarke’s analysis says that the last thing is what this is all about: bringing technology companies to heel by setting a precedent that they must do whatever the government asks, no matter how much it endangers users of their products. Read this exchange:

GREENE: So if you were still inside the government right now as a counterterrorism official, could you have seen yourself being more sympathetic with the FBI in doing everything for you that it can to crack this case?

CLARKE: No, David. If I were in the job now, I would have simply told the FBI to call Fort Meade, the headquarters of the National Security Agency, and NSA would have solved this problem for them. They’re not as interested in solving the problem as they are in getting a legal precedent.

If Clarke, who helped to shape the government’s response to the danger of cyberattacks, says that the NSA could have hacked this phone for the FBI, I believe him. This is all about making Apple subordinate to the whims of the FBI. The establishment of the right of the government to read your mail above all rights to privacy is only the latest step in a series of anti-terrorism overreactions that brought us such developments in security theater as the War on Liquids. Beware of anyone telling you otherwise.

Winter Was Hard

The Rest Is Noise: For Peter Maxwell Davies. The death of the eminent British composer has me thinking about how hard 2016 has been so far on musicians and artists. First Bowie, of course, and then Glenn Frey, but also Natalie Cole, Paul Kantner, composer Stephen Stucky, George Martin, Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire, Keith Emerson, Vanity. And of course Harper Lee and Alan Rickman, when broadening to other art forms.

What gives? Is 2016 a more fatal year than other years? Well,  probably not, thought it’s easy enough to do the comparison in Wikipedia of notable deaths per year (2016, 2015 and so forth). I think what’s happening for me in particular is that musicians (and artists) who helped shape who I am when I was in my teens (meaning they had produced notable works at most 20 years before that) have now hit a particular point in the actuarial curve. It’s kind of a variant of the pathetic fallacy; the underlying drivers are more likely basic human actuarial trends, substance abuse tendencies in musicians active in the 1960s and 1970s, and the worsening of the American diet over the last 30 years than anything more profound.

And yet. It’s hard to escape the feeling of childhood slipping away. The older I get, the more I’m aware that a chunk of what I think of as “me” is defined in terms of how I relate to things outside myself, and while the death of Peter Maxwell Davies does not negate any of the art he produced, his being gone makes those relationships that much more tenuous.

Random 5: coffee deficit edition

It’s Random 5 time! And my dogs didn’t let me sleep last night, so I’m on my second cup of coffee (this one red-eyed with a shot of espresso) and this update will be accordingly off kilter. I’m going to try a new format for the 5 this time; let’s see if it sticks.

  1. Say GoodbyeBeck (Morning Phase)
  2. Comin’ Round the MountainBob Dylan (A Tree with Roots)
  3. Lullaby for an Anxious ChildSting (If On a Winter’s Night…)
  4. The Parting GlassThe Pogues (Rum, Sodomy & the Lash)
  5. L’enferCoralie Clément (Bye Bye Beauté)

Say Goodbye: I don’t resonate with this album as strongly as I did with its predecessor Sea Change. That one felt achingly melancholic and honest. This one feels like “It’s time to make Sea Change II.” But you can’t fault Beck’s craft. The banjo seems an unorthodox choice when it drops into the break but it fits. His harmonies have been getting better over the years, and the stacked chords on the chorus introduce some needed tension into the song. It still feels more like an exercise, though.

Comin’ Round the Mountain: A few years ago, Doom and Gloom from the Tomb posted a link to a download of the granddaddy of all Dylan bootlegs, the “full tapes” from the Basement Tapes sessions. This tossed off fragment of the traditional song isn’t essential but it’s fascinating: with instrumentation that sounds like hammer dulcimer along with bass, acoustic guitar and drums, the vocal fades in and out like a half remembered thought and the second verse fades into inaudible mumbles. We know she’s coming but we don’t know when and we don’t know why. Typical of the Basement Tapes, Dylan lifts the corner of an old traditional children’s song and finds mystery.

Lullaby for an Anxious Child: Originally a 1990s b-side, Sting fleshed out the arrangement for this on his surprisingly good winter/holiday album a few years ago, with strings, harp and harmonium (accordion?) supplementing the acoustic guitar. I’ve been vocally dismissive of later Sting work, but I liked this album, and though I could wish for fewer chimes and a less affected vocal on this track (does every entrance need a little swoop?) it’s still lovely and done with a light touch.

The Parting Glass: I like the Pogues, and Shane McGowan, best when they’re rooted in their craft and their tradition. This straight take is fantastic and wouldn’t have been out of place on a Clancy Brothers album… well, maybe on an album of drunken outtakes.

L’enfer: I was introduced to Coralie Clément’s music via the Nada Surf cover of the title song of this album. The title song, with contributions from that band’s Daniel Lorca, is still the essential track on this album for me, but “L’enfer” is a perfect slice of fuzzed-guitar summertime French pop, with Clément’s breathy vocals sounding like Jane Birkin hanging out with an indie pop band. Fun for Friday.