Aplscruf's Music Blog

Steve Martin at Chateau Ste. Michelle 6.19.10

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

Sat June 19, 2010

Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery

Unlike our Gorge trip which was full of mishaps and long lines, this night was a very pleasurable experience.

Since the winery is only about 15 minutes from our house, we decided to take a taxi and beat the parking traffic. It was a smart move. We arrived about 6:00 and headed first to Redhook Brewery for a nice ale. We walked across the street to the winery and made our way quickly through the ticketing area to the amphitheatre. It was a cloudy, muggy day. We came prepared with rain jackets, a blanket and poncho in case it rained.  We purchased lawn seating, so we carted in some low lawn chairs for comfort.  We also brought some snack food and purchased some Indian food and bottle of sauvignon blanc to enjoy while settling into the show.

Steve Martin, a Wild and Crazy Guy, showed us what he can do with a banjo Saturday. The man can pick. He is so talented. I think he’s out to get Tracy Morgan’s EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Tony, Oscar) collection. For those who watch 30 Rock, you’ll get the joke. Steve not only plays a mean banjo, but has a terrific backing band named The Steep Canyon Rangers, whom he “blames” his wife for discovering while visiting family back in North Carolina. Their band consists of another banjo, fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and stand-up bass. Most of the songs were instrumental arrangements, but others showed off the beautiful harmonizing voices of his band. They were so good together, and played off Steve’s great picking and sense of humor. Steve left most of the singing to them, unless he was interjecting some spoken words or participating in a couple of the more humorous songs.

He showed us a variety of picking styles. One was called claw hammer, and he even wrote and performed an arrangement for a traditional claw hammer song for his new Bluegrass album, The Crow.  [I have since purchased the CD and it was well worth it.  Steve wrote and arranged most of the songs.  I really enjoyed how closely the live performance matches this album. They are just as great live as they are on the album, except there are no jokes and sarcastic remarks in between songs!]

Oh, and it wouldn’t be Steve without the humor! He made several remarks between songs or while tuning the banjos (he had 4 banjos onstage, he said, so he could look behind him and remember what instrument he was playing). He wasn’t Wild and Crazy like his old stand-up comic days, but he would spend some time telling funny anecdotes or add some very dry humor to song intros.  Steve mentioned it must seem strange to see him playing banjo in a band instead of doing standup.  He said something like how weird it would be to go to a show and see Jerry Seinfeld playing the bassoon.  He bragged about being nominated for Bluegrass awards and a Grammy.  “That’s got to sting,” he told the other banjo player, who was feigning a hurt look.

Steve performed a song about Wally, his dog. The violinist made a “barking” noise and then a “whining” sound as Steve narrated that Wally wanted to play ball, but Steve didn’t have time for him. Finally, he gave in, and the chase began. It was a short number, but you could just imagine Wally running after that ball in a big, open field, banjo music blazing.

He said the band is traveling around in a bus for this tour. He recalled being on the road, and the instruments would come out, and they would tell tales of laughter and have a few tears…and then Steve said he knows this because he has called them from his private plane…and the banjo player said yes, that is all true, except he never calls!

He finished show with a Bluegrass version of King Tut! The audience roared and sang along. We moved up to the side of the stage and viewed him from the black screen. We were about 20 feet away. Steve fell into his old stand-up comic character once, and did his King Tut arms, much to the joy of the audience. His dog, Wally, joined them on stage during Tut and wandered around the perimeter and wagged his tail!

We had such a pleasant time. It was so relaxing to lean back in our chairs and soak in the beautiful music. The audience was quiet and respectful, yet very responsive and appreciative after each song. The sky was grey, but only let go of a few sprinkles toward the end of the evening. I have a new respect for Steve and his mastery of the banjo. Wow. Who knew??

www.stevemartin.com

Check out this blog from his Bonnaroo show in Tennessee for quotes of some of Steve’s humorous lines:

http://blogs.tennessean.com/tunein/2010/06/12/steve-martin-brandishes-wit-banjo-skills-at-bonnaroo/ 

 

 

 

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Chateau Ste Michelle, Concert Season 2010, Music, Steve Martin | , , , | 1 Comment

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Gorge 06.12.10

 

 

Tom Petty at the Gorge 6.12.10

The beautiful evening came and went.   Tom and the Heartbreakers played another amazing show with lots of new stuff from MOJO, old favorites, and a few surprises.   If I could only just focus on the show, and not some of the negativity that happened before, during and after, I would feel better about writing this. 

I decided to delete most of the bitching here and write directly to the Greed Machine, a.k.a. Ticketmaster, Tom Petty’s site (where they have concert reviews submitted by fans who attended the show) and LiveNation. 

We sent Boy to Grandma and Grandpa’s, and sent our very excited dog to his sitter.  Off we went, packed like the Joads. 

I always breathe a big sigh of relief when I get over the pass.  I feel claustrophobic on the Western side of the state.  It’s been cloudy nine months straight.  I feel like a big grey blanket is hanging over my head.  As soon as we hit Cle Elum, the bright blue sky opened up.  The little puffy, white clouds dotted across the vast blue canvas reminded us of the opener to The Simpsons. 

We stopped in Cle Elum for some good lunch at the the local Mexican restaurant, Los Cabos.  We then hit Safeway for some dinner food and campground snacks.

The rest of the drive was relaxing and very enjoyable.  We loved watching the temperature gauge of the truck rise to 83 degress as we drove through Vantage and across the massive bridge over the Columbia River.  The desert air does me good.

Cave B

Cave B Grounds

Cave B Tasting Room

As we neared George, we decided to take a side trip to Cave B Winery.  It is located just left of the Gorge entrance.  There is a nice tasting room and patio area, as well as a beautiful courtyard adorned with grape vines.  It sits right on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Columbia.  There is a small hotel and restaurant, and rooms are built right into the cliffside, partially underground.  We wanted to get a room there, but they are booked well in advance.  Instead, we purchased a couple of wine glasses and did some tasting.  I would recommend the riesling.  There were other whites that were equally delicious and sweet.  The reds were dry and velvety. 

We wanted to walk down to the hotel (I had a fantasy that we’d walk in and see Tom and the boys hanging out in the lobby – yeah, right!), but thought we’d better get to the Gorge and set up the truck.  We went all White Trash on this trip.  We brought our Explorer, a foam mattress, a ripped sheet for curtains, and a tent fly for shade attached to the hatchback.  It actually works pretty well!  It’s a little quieter sleeping in the truck than in a tent.  Someday, we’ll get the ’63 Bus fixed and roll it out to the Gorge. 

We arrived at the line for camping around 2:30.  We didn’t get to our campsite until 3:30.  Hence, the bitching.  I could understand if it were 6:00 and the last-minute crowds arriving.  We were not happy campers by the time we parked the truck.  We were thankful we were no longer in line, though, and quickly set up camp along a little fence overlooking the rest of the camp area.  We relaxed in our low canvas chairs for a bit before making delicious, icy mojitos with mint from our garden.  We also enjoyed sandwiches with a Cuban mustard sauce we purchased at Cave B.   After lots of water and some more food, we started packing for our treck to the amphitheatre. 

View from Campsite

We could still see people arriving on the road at 5:30, stranded in a long line of cars and trucks.  Not good.  They would not get to the show on time, guaranteed. 

We took a shuttle bus that dropped us off about 100 yards or so from the main ticket entrance.  I’m glad we took the bus this time, as it is at least 1/2 mile walk down to the entrance to the amphitheatre.  It’s pretty dusty, and one feels like cattle after awhile.  We again arrived at a standstill.  There were no lines formed; just mass humanity, hundreds of people just stopped.  We stood and shuffled forward toward the ticket entrance for about an hour in the sun.  It’s never been that bad in our 15+ years of coming to the Gorge.  Once at the gate, we made it through quickly with no other problems.  And no one peed or barfed on us, so we felt lucky.

By now, though, it was 8:00.  Joe Cocker was supposed to start at 7:30, but apparently they held up the show knowing most of the people were still waiting to get inside!  Right as we started down toward our seats, we heard him start playing.  He began with Leave Your Hat On!  What a sexy song.  He belted it out.  He had a great group of backup singers and a beautiful bass player.  They rocked the show with a short, but sweet set of about 5 songs, including a couple of Beatles covers. 

Joe Cocker

He could scream just like the old days, but looked like life and  food have treated him pretty well (or not, depending on how you look at him!).

 We enjoyed listening to him, but I kept looking at the left side of the stage and wondered how tenth row seats could feel this far back.  Tenth row center is definitely not the same as tenth row far left.  I couldn’t see a giant section of the stage, which worried and angered me.  We paid an egregious amount of money for these seats and there was no explanation or warning on the ticket site about obstructed views.  Again, we were unhappy, but we decided at least we could move in and out of our seats without having to climb over anyone. 

After a fairly brief intermission, the lights dimmed, the sun set, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers burst into their second night with Kings Highway.  I love that song.  I love Mike’s repetitive guitar riff and slide up the octaves at the end of the song.  Ahh, we made it!  We could now just sit back and enjoy the show.  All the annoyances of the afternoon drifted off, and we were ready to just listen, watch, and soak it all in. 

Tom in Blue

Tom was wearing a royal blue velvet blazer, a vest and dark shirt.  He had light jeans and brown boots.  His hair was cut at collar length and he had a beard.  Mike Campell had a dark blue shirt with white ovals on it, which I later realized were little galaxies.  His matching tie had moons, suns and stars on it.  I couldn’t see Benmont or Steve, the drummer;  just Steve’s drumstick and a cymbal.  Ron and Scott were dressed in darker clothes.  I believe Scott had a blazer or suit jacket on.

Here’s the set list, copied from www.tompetty.com

Encore

 

Tom and the boys were so energetic, still so dynamic.  I would get the binoculars out and just watch their interaction with each other, with the crowd.  They would make gestures or raise their eyebrows and smile at each other.  You could tell they have such a strong bond after all these years.  They were genuine; the real deal.  The new music from MOJO was readily accepted, and I can tell a few will become part of their classic hits collection. 

During You Don’t Know How It Feels, Tom would interact with Steve.  On Tom’s cue, Steve would hit the drums hard, stop, hit ’em again.  Tom would “direct” him by throwing his arms out to the side, hold them up, let them drop, and Steve would react with a loud bang.  The crowd would cheer every time.

Free Fallin’ was a nice, slow acoustic rendition.  Tom played his acoustic guitar under one spotlight.  The audience sang along, repeating the lines.  It was beautiful. 

Drivin’ Down to Georgia: I heard that one only once before.  I remember it clearly because it was the first time I’d seen him live, and it was at the Gorge.  It was May 5, 1995, and  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was pregnant with my son.  That song was so different, kinda southern bluesy; and I enjoyed watching Tom emulate a peach tree…Georgia peaches hangin’ from the tree. 

 I love the old favorites, but missed some of my personal favorites,  the ones that didn’t get any radio airplay, such as Wild One Forever, It’ll All Work Out, Blue Sunday or No Second Thoughts. 

Wish I had better pics to share.  Just too far away for my little camera this time.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, The Gorge Amphitheatre, Tom Petty | , , , | Leave a comment