Aplscruf's Music Blog

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers at The Gorge 8.15.14

Steve, Mike and Tom

Steve, Mike, Tom and Ron

Tom Petty hasn’t played The Gorge in four long years.  Last time in 2010, we had a pretty negative experience which had nothing to do with Tom’s fantastic show. The disorganized crowd management system sent the entire ticket-holding population through a very narrow funnel of bag checks and scans which delayed entrance at least an hour; hundreds of people missed the opener, Joe Cocker, altogether. We arrived early and were fortunate to get to our seats partway through Cocker’s mind-blowing set.  We also had trouble with drunks that walked on chair seats in front of us, and more than once fell into us. I literally caught guys falling so I didn’t get smashed underneath them. Our view of the stage was also partially obscured by a big curtain, although the ticket info never stated that when I purchased them online.  After seeing Tom in such intimate spaces as The Troubadour and The Fonda Theatre, our expectations were low this time around.  As it turned out, I was pleasantly surprised.

The Gorge Disciples

The Gorge Disciples

Pat and I always “rough it” in The Gorge campground.  We create a makeshift camp by taking a large tent fly and extend it off the back of our Explorer and set up a small table and camp chairs, protected by sun or rain.We bring a cooler and have snacks before and after the show. A double air mattress fits in the back. It’s fairly comfy, although sleep is minimal due to the loud campers surrounding us that stay up till the wee hours.  Potty time means trudging several yards through rows of campers to the honey bucket zone.  After the show, it doesn’t smell so great. That is to be expected, though, and we deal with it because it beats the nearly three-hour drive home at midnight.

Cave B Inn

Cave B Inn

This show, though, was our best experience so far, surprisingly due to a communication snafu with our friends’ VIP tickets. Our Bellingham buddies L and K had the fortune of staying at Cave B Inn, a beautiful hotel, restaurant and winery with additional cottages nestled into the basalt cliffs, like caves.  As an added bonus, they purchased VIP tickets, which offered early access in a separate entrance and choice, third-row seating.

After we set up camp in the rain (it was predicted to clear up by concert time–rain was another first for us here in the desert), our friends picked us up early so we could grab tickets and head back to Cave B for wine tasting and dinner before the show. We were able to get our general sale Will-Call tickets (10th row) right away. They were not able to pick up their VIP tickets because of a print error between the marketing campaign email and the information received at the ticket window as to the ticket distribution time.  K, who had arranged for the tickets, immediately called the customer service department and left a message after politely arguing with the ticket window agent who insisted they would not be able to pick up their tickets for another two hours, even though he showed the agent the email stating they could pick them up at three o’clock.  The customer service rep called him back within a half hour and asked what it would take to remedy the situation.  K said, “Four passes to the Cliffhouse Lounge should do it.”

View from the Cliffhouse

View from the Cliffside Lounge

After a luxurious time at Cave B where we enjoyed wine tasting and a delicious dinner, we received wristbands for the VIP Cliffhouse Lounge with air conditioning, flush toilets and a screamin’ view of The Gorge and purple sunset. We could only see the back and side of the stage, but the desert view and cool breeze made up for sitting on those metal chairs among the crowd of thousands of “commoners”.  We missed opener Steve Winwood completely, but we saw him here in 2008.  We could hear his music from our perch, though. We cooled off and watched the first half of the Seahawks game, too, before walking down to our assigned seats for Tom Petty’s show. I could get used to this. Thanks, L and K, for letting us tag along in style!

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers (Benmont out of pic, on left at piano)

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers (Benmont out of pic, at grand piano)

Tom’s Gorge show was a sing-along mix of Greatest Hits, threaded with some new songs from Hypnotic Eye, which hit #1 on The Billboard charts and received a 4-star review in Rolling Stone. He also threw in a few rare gems from the past: “Into The Great Wide Open”, “Hard to Find A Friend”, and “Yer So Bad”.

Light Show

Light Show

The light show was fantastic and colorful–I wondered if they purposely lit them in Seahawks colors.  The lights were the best I’ve seen there with any band.  Large viewing screens on each side flashed with lots of close-up shots or interesting graphics throughout the evening.

Showing off another guitar

Showing off another guitar

The boys were energetic and played to the audience.  Each member of the band had their moment to shine. Mike and Tom moved around the whole stage and made sure we all got a good look at both of them. Tom’s vocals were top-notch and never faltered.  His sneering lyrics on the new “American Dream Plan B” brought to mind earlier material from the 1970’s.  His faithful disciples sang along on cue as he raised his arms in triumph.  Tom toned it down a notch for “Rebels” and brought out a beautiful acoustic guitar.  It’s such a lovely song to hear live.  He apologized for not being so talkative this night because he said he had a lot of songs to play for us.  Mike’s guitar solos were phenomenal, especially on Mojo’s bluesy “I Should Have Known It” and a favorite classic, “Refugee”.   Also, Mike and Tom switched out guitars almost every song. We lost track of how many we saw!  Some I recognized from previous shows, but there were quite a few new ones in the stack this time.



The Gorge crowd was also pleasant.  The people in our row and surrounding us were polite, friendly, and not completely drunk. We all sang along with the boys and batted at balloons and beach balls, adding to the summer fun.  As predicted, the sky cleared and the stars shone brightly above us.


Guitar Duet

Mike Campbell solo

Mike Campbell solo



Here’s a review from Todd Hamm of The Seattle Times and Tom’s setlist as it appears on his website:



So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n Roll Star (The Byrds cover)
Mary Jane’s Last Dance
American Dream Plan B
Into The Great Wide Open
Forgotten Man
I Won’t Back Down
Free Fallin’
Tweeter and The Monkey Man (Traveling Wilburys cover)
U Get Me High
Hard To Find A Friend
Yer So Bad
Learning to Fly
Shadow People
I Should Have Known It
Runnin’ Down A Dream

You Wreck Me
American Girl


Taking a Bow

I always get a little misty-eyed during “American Girl”, knowing this is the last song of the evening.  Tom and the band reserve a burst of energy for this song, making it a fantastic, explosive conclusion to the night.  So bittersweet.

We said goodbye and trudged along the path for what seemed like an hour, back to our campsite.  We had arrived in the afternoon to a fairly empty field, and now it was completely full. Walls of RV’s, trailers and tents surrounded us.  Where the hell was our truck?  We ended up walking another 20 minutes or so up and down the aisles of vehicles searching for our campsite.  The campground needed some colored flags to mark the rows or something. Finally, Pat’s good sense of direction guided us to the right location.  Exhausted, we slept for a few hours before heading home at sunrise.

September 16, 2014 Posted by | aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, The Gorge Amphitheatre, Tom Petty | , , , | Leave a comment

Randomville’s at Sasquatch!

Randomville, the online music ‘zine, is covering the Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre!  They have day-by-day concert reviews as well as some pretty amazing pics.

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Music, Randomville, The Gorge Amphitheatre | , , | Leave a comment

Top 10 Live Shows

I thought I’d take a moment and share my top 10 favorite live shows.  Some are very specific by date and venue, and  some are by artist only.   This will change over time, I’m sure.  And after looking it over, I left out a few, such as The Rolling Stones in 1994.  That was a spectacular show, but it was in the Kingdome, and the band was about 1/4 mile away.  Didn’t really feel the love.  We saw Bruce Springsteen a few years ago, and I felt the same way.  Great, energetic show, but we were looking down on them from afar.  The lucky few hundred who got to be right against the stage, now they had a show to remember!

[You can also view this post and other reviews and features on Randomville]

Anyway, on with the list (all pics taken by me except Jimmy Buffett below):

Jimmy Buffett

10.  Jimmy Buffett – The man has paradoxically built an empire on the Margaritaville philosophy!  I’ve only seen him once back  in 2003, but was thoroughly entertained.  The show was pure fun, with hula girls, tiki gods and fire dancers.  And the Parrothead audience was a spectacle in itself.  He brought along a slew of veteran musicians and singers.  If you’re lucky enough to go to his show, his lead guitarist for the night might be Will Kimbrough, a talented musician, singer/songwriter and producer who has also collaborated on several songs with Jimmy.  You can forget all your problems for two hours Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays!

The Paperboys

 9.   The Paperboys – The Vancouver-based Paperboys have been lifting people’s spirits with their high energy shows for 16 years.  The eight-piece band plays in small venues in BC, Seattle and Portland, and captivates the audience with their joyful, upbeat and very eclectic music:  Mexican, Canadian, Celtic, and Reggae soup.  They make quarterly appearances at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard.

8.   Ryan Adams – – Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA January, 2008 – I smiled until my cheeks hurt.  Ryan brought along The Cardinals and tore the place up with songs from his album, Easy Tiger, along with many greats from his prolific song library and a few covers. He’s such a quirky character and a comedian, too–a sad clown.  The rest of the talented band seemed patient and knew when to wait for him to calm down, light his cigarette, have a little chat with the audience, etc.  I loved the train-wrecked Ryan, back when he could write a soul-crushing, alt-country song.  Glad he sobered up and married a pop star, because you know after the divorce, the songs will be good again.   

7.  Brent Amaker and the Rodeo Foot-stompin’, belt buckle-wearin’ cowboys in black.  The lead singer dons a red cape, has a stripper assistant and sounds like Johnny Cash–with a potty mouth. Campy country at its best.  A Seattle treasure.  Catch them at The Crocodile, The Sunset and other small venues throughout the year. 

Brent Amaker

6.  The Gourds Texas and Louisiana, sex and religion, country and rock, bluegrass and Snoop Dogg all rolled into a mandolin, violin, banjo, and accordion.  Their shows feel like an old-timey revival in the Deep South.  I get more salvation from their shows than I ever did in church.  The band’s motto: “For The Unwashed and The Well-Read. “  They’ve been featured at SXSW, Austin City Limits, and are regulars at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard, WA.  Yes, they’re the ones who covered Snoop’s “Gin and Juice” on mandolin.

The Gourds









5.  Old 97’s – Alt-country/rock, Texas-style.  Sweat, spit, roaring guitar riffs, and a faithful audience that knows all the words.  There’s even a glossary on their website if you need help understanding the lyrics.  See them LIVE one time, and you’ll want to follow them around the country.

Rhett Miller of Old 97's





4.  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Anywhere!) – Tom and the band are American Icons.  Just go see them—anywhere.  The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA is a beautiful place to sing along to “Free Fallin’” while the desert sun sets behind the enormous stage.

3.  Todd Snider and the Nervous Wrecks at The Nugget, Sparks, NV 2009 – Wrecktacular.  The whole package.  Comedy, Americana, Folk, and Good Ol’ Rock-n-Roll.  And Will Kimbrough (the man gets around) on screaming, other-worldly guitar solos.  Todd’s solo show is also worth seeing.  He’s a Nashville transplant, originally from Oregon and plays the Northwest once or twice a year.  He can spin a yarn like no other.  Just get him started with stories about Slash or Garth Brooks, and you’ll think you’re at a stand-up comedy show.

Todd Snider and Will Kimbrough

2.  Sir Paul McCartney at The Tacoma Dome, WA 2002, – I was too young to see him when he visited Seattle in the 70’s.  To hear him play not only Wings songs but Beatles tunes with an incredible backing band, priceless.  And the show was a gift from my boss.  I pulled my hair, grabbed my face and screamed like it was 1964.

1.  Tom Petty with Mudcrutch at The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA 2008 – Tom, 10 feet away.  My Musical Messiah–my Jesus of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  He smiled at me (ME!) and I was saved.  I can clearly remember standing there near the stage saying, “I can die now; my life is complete!” Tom reunited his old band (pre-Heartbreakers) and played a few gigs, mostly at The Troubadour, to support their new album.  Tom and the band, which included Mike Campbell on wicked guitar, seemed relaxed and happy.  No big light show, no grandstanding, just a regular band out to enjoy themselves and connect with the audience.  TEN FEET AWAY!

Tom Petty and Mike Campbell

February 8, 2011 Posted by | Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Jimmy Buffett, Music, Old 97's, Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, The Gorge Amphitheatre, The Gourds, The Paperboys, The Tractor Tavern, Todd Snider, Tom Petty, Will Kimbrough | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John (Cougar) Mellencamp at The Gorge 5.14.1999

John Mellencamp

The Gorge Amphitheatre

May 14, 1999

Son Volt Opened

I attended yet another awesome concert at The Gorge.  Tickets for John went on sale sometime in March or early April, and at the time I debated about going.  I knew Tom Petty was also touring [ended up missing Tom’s Echo tour–bummer], and I wasn’t sure we could afford both shows.  The initial sale date came and went; P and I were still discussing what our plans would be for May 14.  We decided to wait and see if any reserved tickets came back from promoters right before the actual concert date.  That turned out to be a smart move.

A week and a half before the concert, we started calling Ticketmaster and checking the website for reserved seats.  Nothing in the reserved section was available.  I started getting nervous because I had already told my boss we wanted to go, and she made special arrangements to reschedule a CPR training class just for me.  Thursday, a week before the show, we tried again.  No luck.  The next day at work things were slow, so I decided to look on the website.  Bingo!  Reserved tickets, Row 20, Section B (in the middle), seats 5-6.  I purchased them on the spot.

P’s parents agreed to watch our son the night of the concert.  Luckily they were planning to be at their Cle Elum house, so it was easy for us to leave him there and continue on our way.  His cousins would also be there, so he didn’t mind our leaving at all.  We left their house about 5:00 to allow ample time to park, pick up our will-call tickets and get a bite to eat.

On the way through Ellensburg, we got a little anxious.  The wind had picked up, and the clouds looked ominous.  After we turned left at Vantage, we realized the clouds were not drifting east; the sky was blue and gorgeous.  Since we were a little early, we were able to cruise right in to the giant parking lot.  Well, I wouldn’t call it a parking lot, but a hay-field that had recently been harvested and was flat enough for parking.

We arrived at the Will-Call ticket window.  I thought for sure we would have to wait in line for our tickets, but we were the second group there.  There was a crowd of very angry and somewhat inebriated people hanging around near the ticket window.  Aerosmith, who was supposed to play the next night, canceled due to two members of their band coming down with pneumonia.  This one guy said he had paid $600 to fly out here, only to have to turn around and go home.   I never thought about that before; if we had to fly to get to Eastern Washington, rent a car, and get a hotel, it could be a very costly trip.  Another drunk ex-hippie sat on the ground and howled, “I wanna see Aerosmith!  I wanna see Aerosmith!”  We wondered if we would encounter a drunken riot before the night was over.

After we checked in and started our walk down to the amphitheatre, I looked up at the beautiful sky.  There were a few fluffy clouds, but when the sun came out, it was so warm.  I could see the Columbia River down below us, so far away.  Since the check-in went smoothly, we decided to try the beer garden and get something to eat.

The beer garden was a maze.  First we had to pass by the well-built ID checkers.  Then we had to walk down a fenced corridor to a ticket booth.  We were only allowed two tickets apiece.  The drinks were $5.00 so we only purchased two tickets total.  We then had to take our tickets to another booth and stand in line for the beer or wine.  We could not return for more tickets; we would have to move forward to the beer/wine booth area.  We cannot drink the beer/wine there, but must continue through another door to the drinking area, which is fenced around a large square of grass.  We must then finish our drink in this enclosed space (I felt like a steer waiting on the mounds of manure in Ellensburg before the butchering).  After we finished, we could not go back for more, but must continue through another gate, opened by another burly guy.  If we wanted more, we must repeat the above process.  What a fiasco just for a plastic cup of wine!

We were hungry and fed up with the drinking process, so we purchased some Mexican food (if you can call a quesadilla with La Victoria salsa dumped on it Mexican food).  We sat at a picnic table and chatted.  A mediocre rock band was playing close by to entertain the guests.

We decided to make one last bathroom run, then made our way to our cool reserved seats.  Security was tight at the entrances.  They didn’t want any of the general admission riff-raffs squatting a seat.  We were about 20 minutes early, so we sat back and relaxed, watched the people, and watched the sun set.  It was getting pretty chilly by 8:00.

About 8:10 Son Volt opened.  Son Volt sounds like a mix between REM, the Knack and Whiskeytown.  I really enjoyed their music, but was anxious for John to get on stage.  We were also anxious about who would be sitting around us.  At the Rod Stewart concert last year [1998], a bunch of drunk girls sat behind us and were pushing their seats into the backs of our legs so they had room to dance.  Then, one girl decided she was too drunk to walk to the bathrooms, so she peed right behind us!  What a nightmare; it practically ruined our experience.   This time, though, the crowd was very mellow.  We were so relieved.  There were some high fivin’ white guys a couple of rows in front who seemed pretty rowdy, but then I also saw them sharing a bottle of Pepsi…most likely rum and Pepsi!  They were just having a good time, though.  After Son Volt, we made one more bathroom run, and came back just in time to see the roadies checking the mikes.  The lights went out and everyone roared; the concert would begin any minute!

I didn’t know what to expect.  I saw John in a recent interview talking about touring again, and he didn’t seem too enthusiastic.  He was ready to settle down with his new family.  He was on his third marriage; the other two had failed due to his constant traveling.  He decided he wanted to make this one work, and I thought to myself, this might be my last opportunity to see him.  He comes off as a bit surly in interviews, and I wondered how he would behave on stage.  I wondered if he would sing his old songs or play his most recent work that received lukewarm reviews.

Finally, we could see silhouettes of the band enter the stage.  The lights flashed on, and again, the audience roared!  The set included a very monochromatic color scheme; everything was either gray or white.  All of the members wore black.  John looked good and fit in black slacks, a black button shirt with white embroidery down each side.  He had a white t-shirt on underneath.  The rest of the band included:  a buff man on keys, an anorexic woman on electric violin, a bass guitar player and a woman, Pat Peterson, on bongos and maracas who has been with him on tour for 20 years.  there was a rhythm guitar, a lead guitar, and a young-looking drummer.

His first song of the night, “I’m On My Way” was off his new album.  I wondered what would be next.  His new album is more pop and pretty mellow.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised with his set list.  It was basically John Cougar/John Mellancamp’s Greatest Hits, with a few new songs added, but only those that were fast and fun.  the second song he played was “Jack and Diane”.  The audience went crazy.  His band was so energetic, too.  They would dance and sway to the music.  John would join in and dance and pose.  He eventually took his outer shirt off and rocked his t-shirt.  During “The Authority Song” he rolled up his right sleeve to show off tattoos on his shoulder and forearm.  I couldn’t tell what they were from our seats.

During “Hurts So Good” he pointed down to the front row and motioned at someone to come up on stage.  I thought, “Oh, great, he’s probably pulling up some cute chick from the front row to make her day, etc. ”  Well, to my surprise, he pulled up a big college boy up on stage and motioned him to sing a solo of “Hurts So Good”!  John handed over the mike; the guy was totally excited!  I didn’t see it, but P said when the guy started to sing, John was moving to stand next to him and put his arm around him, but the guy flung his arm back, not realizing John was right there, and popped John in the forehead!  John fell back and feigned dizziness to tease him.  Anyway, the college student belted out the rest of the song to the audience’s amusement and delight.

The band was so good.  The fiddle player, although painfully skinny, was very talented and truly enhanced his music, especially the new stuff.  The bongo player also sang backup and  even got to jump in on a few occasions and take over the mike, which really got the audience moving.  She was very energetic and had a unique voice.  The guitarists had a couple of short solos, but mainly did their best in keeping the songs clean and true to the original recordings.  We were so close, the bass and drums seemed to thump the rhythm right into our chests.

Other songs included:

Fruit Trader

Your Life is Now

Lonely Ol’ Night

Walls (Crumblin’ Down)

Small Town

Pink Houses

Rain on the Scarecrow

Wild Night (Van Morrison cover)

R.O.C.K. in the USA

We had an absolute blast at this concert.  It’s up there in my favorite concert list.  They kept the music clean, his voice sounded great, and the intense energy never wavered.  We were on our feet for almost two hours of pure entertainment.

September 12, 2010 Posted by | 1999, John Mellencamp, Music, The Gorge Amphitheatre | , , | Leave a comment

Rod Stewart at the Gorge 9.12.1998

Rod Stewart

The Gorge Amphitheatre

September 12, 1998

Once again, we saw a terrific concert at The Gorge.  Rod had the place rockin’!

I purchased five tickets through Ticketmaster about two month earlier.  Our friends M & J and a neighbor of theirs wanted to go with us.  The tickets were about $58 apiece for reserved seats.  There were other tickets available, but this was the best I could do for the price.  I was tenth in line and still had to settle for Row 30.

One week before the concert, M called to say J couldn’t go.  We scrambled all week trying to find someone who not only liked Rod Stewart, but who also could afford the tickets and had the weekend off.  This was not easy.  Finally, Friday afternoon, M found a co-worker who convinced her three boys that their parents needed to attend this concert, even though it meant cutting their soccer game short.  D and D were excited to go.  M delivered the tickets to them Saturday morning so they could leave when they wanted and meet us at the show.  [2010-I have since learned after this show and later Bob Dylan’s to never, ever agree to buy other people’s tickets. ]

It took us about three hours to get to the Gorge, park, use the Honey Buckets and finally weave our way through the throngs of people to our seats.  Row 30, Section C wasn’t too shabby.  We had a left-of-center view of the stage.  At about ten minutes to 7:00 a band of about 10 Scottish bag pipers began playing some tunes to entertain the audience.  I believe they were supposed to open right before Rod came out, but the roadies were having some technical difficulties with some of the lights, and Rod didn’t actually appear until about 7:30.

The sun had set over the picturesque hills, nestled above the Columbia River.  The stage sits right on the edge of the cliff on the eastern side, with the reserved seating area fanned out around it.  The festival seating consisted of a grassy terraced hillside.  People brought lawn chairs and blankets for comfort.  There is also a VIP section which had their own boxed area with four chairs and a table for drinks.  No one was in front or behind to bother them. [Although, these seats are way in the back of the reserved section.]

Rod entered the stage and everyone cheered, as the show was finally underway.  He started the show with a song from his latest album entitled “Cigarettes and Alcohol”.  This was a great, rockin’, rowdy opener.  Rod was wearing black spandex tuxedo pants that had rhinestone glittering on the side stripes.  One of our friends who turned down tickets exclaimed they did not want to see an aging Rod in spandex.  Well, they would have had to leave right then! The pants cut short, above his ankles, and he wore bright yellow socks with black boots.  His silk shirt was checked black and blue.  His trademark blond hair was spiked in all directions.  He has a great head of hair!  His band consisted of two guitarists, one bass, a keyboard and an excellent drummer.   He had three male vocalists who could sing harmony like nobody’s business.

The next song, I believe, was “Forever Young”.  then came “Hot Legs”!  On the large screen behind the stage were 20′ legs!  That is such a fun song.  I could not keep from moving to the music during the entire concert.  I’m sore today!

Other songs included:

Young Turks


Some Guys Have All the Luck

Losing You

In My Heart

Ease My Troubles

Ooh La La

Tonight’s the Night

Rocks Off

Ol’ Motown Records

This Ol’ Heart of Mine

Maggie (one of the two encores)

and of course, his disco hit If you Want My Body

The three other vocalists also sang “Everyday People”, which was wonderful, while Rod took a quick break and costume change.  He left one other time while his awesome drummer banged out a five-minute solo.

Rod changed outfits about four times.  He kept the same pants, but wore a red silk shirt with white polka-dots, a couple of brightly colored jackets with different shirts, and two different hats:  one black with a brim, the other with black and white checks.

He was quite the showman.  He had a variety of greatest hits and some slow ballads.  On the slower songs, he requested the audience take a seat, giving our feet a much-needed break because we stood for most of the 2 1/2 hour show.

The only drawback was our lovely neighbors seated behind us.  Most of the crowd were between the ages of 30-50, except for the four girls behind us who were most likely college students.  They were drunk when they sat down, about 10 minutes into the show.  As the concert wore on, they continually pushed all of our folding chairs forward, hitting our calves.  They wanted more room to dance around.  I had to keep moving my chair back forcefully so I wouldn’t bonk the person in front of me.  I felt trapped most of the concert.  I tried to ignore them and concentrate on the fantastic show, but after a while, I really started to get annoyed.  The apologized when we gave them dirty looks.  One of the drunk girls actually peed behind us –squatted, while her sweet friends held up a jacket for modesty–because she didn’t feel like walking the few yards up to the Honey Buckets.  [Looking back, I should have found security and had them thrown out; but the show was so good, I didn’t want to waste the time arguing to get them removed.]

Besides the bashing chairs and peeing incidents, we thoroughly enjoyed the show.  Rod is a true entertainer and had us singing along the whole night.  We drove home that night, singing the songs–out of tune, of course.

September 11, 2010 Posted by | 1998, Music, Rod Stewart, The Gorge Amphitheatre | , , | Leave a comment

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers May 12, 2001

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
The Gorge Amphitheatre
George, WA
With guest opener The Wallflowers
Saturday, May 12, 2001

Ahhh, the Gorge season has begun.  What a grand way to start the season of concerts with no other than Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers!

We saw Tom at the Gorge in back 1995 with our friends from Sunnyside.  Little did I know I was pregnant with our son at the time.  We had so much fun, but it was a bit cold.  It was also the Gorge season opener in early May.  I enjoyed every minute and refused to leave until he was finished with the last song.  When the tickets went on sale this time, I had to go.  We missed his Echo tour two years ago because we already purchased tickets to Mellencamp and had other things planned for the summer [what was I thinking??].  P called me at work and told me he got Row 25.  That was so nice of him; he doesn’t even like going to concerts, so I was really surprised.  We got the same row we were in last time.

The day of the concert, May 12, was a very busy day.  We first had to go to our son’s t-ball game.  I opted to stay home and pack; we weren’t very organized the night before.  I was ready to go as soon as the boys came back from the game.  It was nice and sunny outside.  P said it would be hot in Eastern Washington, but I decided to wear jeans and take shorts, just in case.  I knew how cold-blooded I could be.  I managed to pack several layers of clothing into a large backpack.

We grabbed a bite and headed to our first stop, Cle Elum.  We spent some time visiting with P’s folks.  They wanted to cook us dinner, but we needed to head down the road.  We knew the lines would be long to get into the Gorge.  We also needed the freedom of being alone, if only for a few hours.  We kissed the boy goodbye and headed East.

There is only one road in and only one big place to park: on a hay-field above the amphitheatre.  As we were driving East to Vantage, we noticed the temperature gauge was going up and up.  Eighty-six, eighty-seven…ninety degrees!  I couldn’t believe it.  We opened the sunroof and enjoyed the heat for a little while, then blasted the air conditioning.  We passed an RV with a sign in the window that said, “Petty Bound.”  I started getting really excited then!

We got to within a mile of the parking area and stopped in a huge traffic jam.  No one was moving.  We sat there for probably 20 minutes, then suddenly everyone moved along at a fast pace.  They must have let in a certain number of vehicles and waited for them to park before letting the next group in.  Anyway, we were happy to be moving and finally parked.  They hay was about 6 inches tall, so I made sure to take a hay fever pill before my arrival.  We packed some water in the backpack, and off we went to enjoy our evening.

Tom Petty music was blasting from the tailgate parties all along our walk.  We had to walk probably a quarter-mile to the ticket corral.  I call it a corral because everyone feels like cattle there.  Twenty thousand people have to fit through narrow ticket gates and then move down narrow walkways to the seating area below.

Finally, we arrived inside the bowl.  We first decided to grab a beer, since we were about 2 hours early.  In the beer line, some guy yelled, “Dude, the Double-Double is fu#&in’ awesome!”  He saw that P had an In-N-Out burger t-shirt on that he purchased in California.  The guy apologized for swearing, but went on to say how much he loved In-N-Out burgers.  We laughed and agreed they were the best.  We then paid $12.00 for two Pyramid ales, only to realize they came in smaller cups than the cheaper Coors beer!

We sat on the sloping lawn and watched the people.  There were about six decades of people there.  I saw ten-year-olds with their parents, teenagers, college students, 30-somethings like us, on up to 60-ish.  We saw the rare 60’s dudes: long, gray-haired, burnt out hippie-types, with tie-died shirts, pot bellies (and heads) with skinny legs and arms.  Only a few remaining, we figured.  We saw many a man who should not be shirtless.  Most tried to suck in their guts, which only made them look even more ridiculous, as it made their man-breasts stick out farther and their butts protrude.  Women were equally revealing and not in an attractive way.  It was so hot, though, no one seemed to care.

P went back for another round of beer and food.  I wasn’t really hungry, just hot.  I kept guzzling my water so I wouldn’t get dehydrated.  We hit the Honey Buckets before going down to our seats to catch The Wallflowers.

We timed it just right; we moved forward to the front of the stage just as Jakob Dylan walked on.  It was exciting to see him up close.  We then sauntered over to our 25th row.  Unfortunately, we were right in the middle of the row, which meant getting out to go to the bathroom was going to be a chore.  On our way to our row, P was again accosted because of his shirt.  The man yelled, “You mean, you went all the way to California and you didn’t bring me one (meaning a burger) back?”  I thought he was going to hit P from the look on his face!  Then P made the mistake of teasing him by saying, “Well, there’s always Dick’s (a local burger joint).”  Offended, the man yelled,  “Don’t even make that comparison!  Dick’s will never come close to In-N-Out!  They’re the best hamburgers I’ve ever had!”  We laughed, agreed, and moved on toward our seats.

We sat while The Wallflowers ran through a short set, mostly off their first album, Bringing Down the Horse and a couple of songs off their new album, Breach.  Favorite songs included: “Sixth Avenue Heartache,” “Three Marlenas,” and “God Don’t Make Lonely Girls,” and he also covered David Bowie’s “Heroes,” which I believe he recorded for a movie soundtrack.  I enjoyed his version of that song; it sounded great on the big stage.  I felt kind of sorry for Jakob, though, because when he came on stage at 7:00 sharp, hardly anyone was in the reserved section, and there were hundreds of people milling around in the general admission/lawn seating area.  Finally, more people showed up and sat down.  He then said, “I can’t believe you guys drove all this way only to sit down at the concert.  You make me feel bad!  Please, stand up!”  So, most people got off their butts and stood.  I didn’t really want to stand, because I knew I would be standing through the entire length of Tom’s show.  We did, though, and enjoyed the music.

As soon as The Wallflowers’ set was over, we made the decision to hit the buckets once more.  We had to plow through the mess of people in our row to get to the hill.  We ended up back in the beer garden where the lines weren’t so long, and got back to our seats about 10 minutes before the lights dimmed.  There was a low roar, then an explosive cheer as Tom and the Heartbreakers entered from the right.

They immediately picked up their instruments and dove right into “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” from the Full Moon Fever album.  This got everyone on their feet.  He kept the pace going with “I Won’t Back Down,” and everyone sang along.  It was so much fun; of course, all the die-hard Petty fans knew all the words.  Then he played “Breakdown,” and he ad-libbed as the audience clapped along.  “Billy the Kid” from Echo was next.  He surprised me by playing two songs from Damn the Torpedoes:  “Here Comes My Girl” and “Even the Losers,” two of my absolute favorite songs.

The set list also included: Too Much Ain’t Enough/It’s Good to be King/You Don’t Know How it Feels/Guitar Boogie Shuffle/Don’t Come Around Here/Red Rooster/Swingin’ Doors/Walls- from the movie, She’s the One/Mary Jane’s Last Dance/You Wreck Me

He was supposed to do some new songs for an upcoming album, but instead he played an old rockabilly number that Tom said he found in one of the Heartbreakers’ garage entitled “Guitar Boogie.”  He also did a country number from Merle Haggard that sounded great.  He did a blues song, really showing their range of genres.
The encore included “Free Fallin’” and another fan fave, “American Girl.”

What can I say, Tom is awesome.  His show was high-energy entertainment.  Everyone knew the words, everyone sang along or clapped, sending energy right back to the stage.  Tom wore a bright blue jacket with brocaded pearls and sequins that sparkled in the lights. He had to remove that from the heat just a couple of songs into the set.  He had on a black vest with a long-sleeved, white, loose-fitting shirt and an old-fashioned striped tie, that was tied loosely at his neck.  He had faded blue jeans and old suede tennis shoes.  His hair was shorter than that on a recent VH-1 show, about chin length.  He sported a beard, which actually looked good on him, except it is almost all white now. The other guys looked ok, but also looked a little old and tired by the end of the night.  I don’t think Mike Campbell cracked a smile all night.  Tom did, though.  He kept stopping and thanking us for being there, told us he has the best band backing him up-they’d been together 25 years (I felt really old), and even at the end said, “God bless you!”  He just seemed so excited and energized by the crowd.  He was really good about talking and playing to all parts of the audience, left right, and even shined the lights on the crowd up in the lawn.  He said to them, “Hey, has anyone up there fallen in love tonight?”

I will see Tom again, some day.

September 5, 2010 Posted by | 2001, Jakob Dylan, Music, The Gorge Amphitheatre, The Wallflowers, Tom Petty | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers May 5, 1995

This was a most memorable concert and one of the few I documented from the nineties. 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

The Gorge Amphitheatre

May 5, 1995

My thirtieth year is turning out pretty well.   Once again I attended a concert and renewed my youth.  I bought the tickets back in February after watching VH1 advertise a chance to buy tickets in advance to any Petty concert in the country.  I decided to call and give it a try [I don’t think online tickets were even invented yet!].  I knew our friends in Sunnyside would love to go, so I bought four tickets.  As it turned out, our friend’s brother and sister-in-law were also planning on going.  We met at their house in Sunnyside on Friday.  The concert didn’t start until 8:30, so we had plenty of time to chat and relax before driving the hour or so to the Gorge. 

The concert was sold out!  We had seats in the 25th row.  I wanted  to take binoculars, but as it turned out, we were fairly close and near the middle of the stage. 

We ended up leaving fairly late.  By the time we slowly drove to the grassy parking lot, the sun was almost down.  We missed the opening band, The Jayhawks [now kicking self].  None of us had heard of them anyway, so it was no big loss [kicking self again as I write this in 2010]. 

We sat in the car a while and had some beer.  Unfortunately, they bought some “good” beer without screw caps and we did not bring a bottle opener.  We had to ask our neighbors in the car next to ours.  It was our friend’s wife’s duty, since, she was closest.  She was slightly buzzed, but she used her very courteous voice as she asked, “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help but notice you were drinking Guinness, and that you would need a bottle opener to drink them.  We are without one ourselves…we were wondering if we could borrow yours?”  Out came the Swiss Army knife, passed through the car windows! 

We sat there for a while longer, then grabbed our packs of rain gear and warm clothes, one last beer, and started the trek toward the gate.  We had close to a quarter of a mile to go from the car to the seats.  When we reached the gate, we were herded through like drunken cattle.  Hundreds of us had to squeeze though a small gate, and were then searched and patted down, one by one.  We didn’t bring anything with us except pop and lots of warm clothes.  There were rumors there would be thunderstorms that night.  I couldn’t imagine how miserable it would be if it rained.  We lucked out…it was windy and overcast, but quite warm, and it never rained.

It was barely light when we arrived in the main part of the amphitheatre, but there must have been 20,000 people there!  The amphitheatre is made of terraced rock/cement and grass and extends up to the sky.  It was a wall of people.  Down below somewhere, were our seats (folding chairs), which were on the “floor”.  We had no chance in hell of finding our friend’s brother; they had lawn seating.

The first thing we did was hit the Honey Buckets.  There were about 10 people waiting in front of each one.  People became impatient and started shouting at the people going in.  They would say things like, “Go, Purple Hat Guy!” and “Go, Blond Woman!”  There were cheers when they exited. 

Anyway, we went to find our seats among the throngs of people.  I picked up a t-shirt along the way for 25 bucks [Wildflowers]; a rip-off, but I needed a souvenir.  We got to our row, but our friend’s seats were not there!  The stupid employees miscounted the seats and came up two short.  We yelled at every security guard and employee there to try to figure out where our friends were going to sit.  Unfortunately, they were all about 20 years old and they had no idea how to solve the problem.  Finally, one person brought us two extra chairs, but we had no place to put them.  If we put them on the end of the row, we would be blocking the aisle.  We stood around for about 20 minutes, then ended up just using one of the chairs and standing.  We ended up standing the entire show, so it didn’t matter too much.

About 10 minutes later Tom and the Heartbreakers entered the stage!  The massive crowd cheered.  He opened with a song from Hard Promises…The Waiting, then Running Down a Dream from Full Moon Fever, and You Don’t Know How It Feels off the new Wildflowers album.   The crowd was really receptive of the new material.  Also played: You Wrecked Me,/Refugee/It’s Good to be King/Listen to Her Heart/Mary Jane’s Last Dance/Free Fallin’/ Honey Bee/Time to Move On/American Girl/Alright for Now and then some new ones, not yet recorded: a little ditty about girls he had who did drugs and other substances (ex: I had a girl who drank coffee/I couldn’t get her off me), a song about Georgia with great guitar licks from Mike Campbell.  I remember one part of the chorus about the peaches hangin’ from the tree, with his own limbs outstretched.  I also sang a cover of I Just Wanna Make…Love to You.  They sounded excellent!  The choice of music wasn’t my favorite; I would have preferred more old stuff, but the whole reason for this concert was to promote his newest album.  Still, it was a great concert.

Tom sported a beard and a brown blazer with a denim shirt and jeans.  He wore a cool silver-buckled belt that he wore over the shirt.  The rest of the band wore mainly black. 

After a few songs, P and I headed to the bathrooms.  After the long trek, we headed down to the gate near the front of the stage, on the right side.  We had to prove that we had our reserved tickets by showing the security guard our stubs.  We loitered about near the right side of the stage for a while, mainly because the mass of humanity was blocking us from getting back to our seats.  We had an excellent view of Tom, and at one point he walked over to our side!  He smiled our way, so I waved.  Cool!  I think he looked right at me!  Extra Cool!  I’ve been waiting since 1979 to see him, and this made it all worth it!  We finally shoved and pushed our way through the crowd standing in the aisle and made it back to our seats to enjoy the rest of the show.

During the encore, when he played Alright for Now,  our friends wanted to head back to the car.  I pouted and said we should try to get closer to the front of the stage instead.  Many people left before he came back to do the encore, so there was more room.  They agreed, so again we got down pretty close to the stage.  It was great!  I didn’t care one bit about having to fight the crowds after the show.  It was worth it.

On the way out, we got in the usual human and car traffic jam.  Some guy was selling home-made Tom t-shirts.  He was walking between the cars that were stuck.  We couldn’t resist, and bought one for eight bucks!

I am so glad I made the decision to buy those tickets. 

[Little did I know, I was about one month pregnant at that time.  I told my son he’s been to a Tom Petty concert!]

August 17, 2010 Posted by | 1995, The Gorge Amphitheatre, Tom Petty | , , | Leave a 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



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

Concert Season 2006

Concert Season 2006
I gauge how good of a year I’ve had based on the quantity and quality of concerts I have attended during the spring/summer/fall months. This year [2006] has been the best ever! Usually in February, I start hunting band websites, venue websites and Ticketmaster looking for Seattle tour dates. I get so excited for Concert Season to roll around! The winter months are usually quite boring, with hardly any acts. That is the time for vacations or just spending downtime with family in the gray gloom. But then late in the winter, the dates start showing up in the newspaper, Ticketmaster sends emails, and I get a rush of excitement!

The following is a summary of concerts we saw, the experiences we had, and the music played. It’s been such a good season! I’m hoping it’s not quite over, even though it is September 9 [2006] today. The one regret is not booking tickets to Nashville for the Americana Music Awards, but how can I complain. I might see Todd Snider in October, if I can find someone to go with me. We’ll see…


Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville. Saw Elvis Costello with his latest collaborator, Allen Toussaint, a New Orleans R&B vet. They have an album out together, and I need to pick it up! Lots of boogie-woogie R&B sounds. Elvis played songs from that album along with his classic new wave stuff like: Watching the Detectives, Allison, Pump it Up, What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding…

Hot night, about 85 degrees. Went with H and C. Purchased a nice bottle of 2003 Syrah and some cheese, salami and crackers at the winery gift shop. Had a great little picnic before the show. It was such a beautiful setting, a nice crowd. It was fun to people-watch as the show progressed, to see the middle-aged businessmen getting a little tipsy from the wine and trying to stumble across the uneven grass back to their seats. Unfortunately, the one time C and I went to the bathroom, the line was out the door, and only two stalls were available. This was exactly the point where Elvis kicked it up a notch and played his old favorites. I was crabby, but we still had fun.

Also in June, we saw John Hiatt and the North Mississippi All Stars. Wow what a show! They played at Marymoor Park in Redmond. P and I arrived early and got some dinner. Then we got some wine and beer, and some more wine and beer. I was quite tipsy by the time the show got started! P was up to the bathrooms about every 10 minutes! No more beer for him at concerts! We had 4th row seats, a little to the right of center. Perfect!

N. Mississippi consists of two brothers, Luther and (I don’t remember) Dickinson. They are sons of Jim Dickinson [who recently passed away in 2009], who produced John Eddie’s “Who the Hell Is John Eddie” album as well as John Hiatt‘s, and lots of other folks. Luther can play the guitar like no one I have seen before. At one point, he played a one-string guitar that looked like a box with a stick in it and a rubber band for a string! He made that thing moan. Unreal. And he looks like he’s 20, although I believe he’s in his 30’s. The bass player looked like Fat Albert, and played the bass real high up under his chest. His last name was Chew, which I thought was fitting, but man could he play! He also added a little rap/hip-hop style to their very southern rock. A real nice mix, which has garnered them a broad, young following. They played a good ½ hour set, mostly from their new album, “Electric Blue Watermelon,“ then took a break before being joined by John Hiatt.

I have only recently started listening to John Hiatt. I knew of him, and The Mountain radio station brings him to town every year, but I didn’t know his range of music. He has done country, rock, has written scores of songs that other artists like Bonnie Raitt (Thing Called Love) and Suzy Bogguss (Drive South) have made famous. He is famous in his own right as well. He has a very unique voice, like that of Randy “Short People” Newman. He is skinny, wiry, with a face worn by a hard life, but kind, appreciative of the audience, and totally against the Bush administration! Yay! P was impressed.

John sang a slew of songs, a Greatest Hits night, plus many from his new album, “Master of Disaster.” Set list included: Master of Disaster, Cry Love, Love’s Not Where We Thought We Left It, Ain’t Ever Goin’ Back, Slow Turning, Thing Called Love, Thunderbird, Old School, Child of the Wild Blue Yonder, Buffalo River Home, Riding With the King…many others. He was very entertaining, and surrounded by a talented band.


Ahhh, Tom Petty time. Finally. We saw him last year at the Gorge, but I was looking forward to a new venue, Clark County Amphitheatre, in Ridgefield, WA, near Vancouver. Tom has a new album out entitled “Highway Companion,” so I was excited to see how the new songs would sound live. Also we had 4th row seats, so I was very anxious to see how close we we would sit to the stage.

Tom is my musical hero. His album, “Damn the Torpedoes” was one of my first album purchases as a young teenager. I wore that record out on my sister’s very nice stereo system. She almost killed me when she found out I was using it when she was gone! I used to play “Here Comes My Girl” and “Even the Losers” over and over.

I had a feeling I would cry when he came on stage. There was my hero, up close. He also announced he probably would not be doing any major tours anymore; this may be his last one.

I did cry.  I was blown away being 15 feet from my hero, and having him come out with the first song being “Listen to Her Heart,” one of my all-time favorites!

Set list included: Handle With Care (Traveling Wilburys), Free Fallin’, Down South (Highway Companion), Square One, and I think one other off the new album, Refugee, You Wreck Me, then with Stevie Nicks (guest singer) Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, Insider, and one other of Tom’s songs that Stevie sang alone with the band. The last song of the ovation was American Girl, another favorite of mine.

I cried at least two other times when he played my favorite songs. I just love him, and I’m so glad we got to sit so close.


Saturday the 2nd, we went to American Idol with S and D. The guys were not thrilled about going, but it was in Tacoma, and we thought the drive would give them a chance to bond a little! They did, and we went to a nice dinner at a brew pub near the Tacoma Dome by the old train station. That area of Tacoma is pretty nice.

We had fun teasing them about us wanting to act like little teenagers at the concert. We even had Hicks Chicks pink t-shirts on! The guys just rolled their eyes. It was pretty warm that night, too, which made the concert even warmer than expected. Luckily, I wore shorts.

The Idol show was very cheesy. The 10 people performed based on the order they were kicked off. Mandisa went first, followed by Lisa, then Ace, Paris, Bucky, Pickler, etc. Finally, Taylor Hicks came on and rocked everyone with Jailhouse Rock. He was the best, even though his dancing was even weirder than on TV. He did play the harmonica, which was awesome. I kept telling S how much fun it would have been to see him in some shithole bar with his band. Much more fun than this stinking heat dome with a bunch of screaming 12-year-olds. Chris and Elliott also did well, but only sang about 2 songs apiece. That’s ok, we vowed to see any of those guys separately, once they’re done with their AI contract.

Then, a long shot…I had written to Will Kimbrough to see if he was playing Seattle anytime soon. He said no, but he was playing Coos Bay with Rodney Crowell. It was a long shot, but I told my son if we can find someone to go with, we could drive to Coos Bay to see them. It was a free outdoor concert, so hard to beat! P couldn’t go because he’d eaten all his vacation time this summer. I had recently sent Will’s Americanitis CD to our friend R, who loved it. I called him and asked if it was possible for him to go with us to Coos Bay. He wanted to talk it over with K first, then get back to me.

He finally gave us the “ok” to go! I got the time off approved in advance, thank God. The boy had been talking about going since mid-August. He even made cute little foam visors with their names on each one that he insisted we wear at the concert!

So, on Tuesday, Sept. 5 [2006], we started our long trek down South. Just R, the boy and me. I didn’t think I’d have the guts to do it, but I was determined not to let an opportunity pass me by. Plus, I owed it to the boy [then 10 years old] to take him to his first “real” concert. It was a good opportunity to bond with him, and also R was really excited to spend some time with the boy (he’s like an uncle to him) and see Will. I took my iPod, and R was impressed with the quality of the sound and all the music it held. I played lots of Will and Rodney for him, so he would be more familiar with them. He didn’t realize Rodney was actually the headliner, so once he heard his music, he was impressed and excited to see him, too.

I drove to Eugene, then R took over. The driving wasn’t as bad as I thought. I usually don’t drive for that long of a time, but I did ok. R enjoyed not having to drive, since he always has to drive with K. The traffic was bad through Portland and Salem, but it was moving, at least. We had a real pretty drive through the hills from Eugene to Florence. R’s hands were shaking because he wanted to fish the rivers we passed! Lots of cute little towns and storefronts along the way

Florence was gorgeous, with the massive yellow sand dunes surrounding us. We took a little side trip to see if we could get close to the ocean. We finally parked and the boy and I climbed up a dune and looked out to the ocean. It was about a quarter mile from us, so not enough time to run down to see it. R had to wait by the car due to his prosthetic leg; he wasn’t able to climb up the dunes. The wind was blowing at least 20 knots, so we didn’t stay long. It was also cold, about 58 degrees! It was in the 80’s the whole way down until we got there! It was foggy, too.

We continued our trek, closer now to our final destination! We got to Coos Bay and the Red Lion Inn about 4:00. We checked in, dropped off R in his handicapped-accessible room, and then headed across the parking lot to ours. We slowly drove up to our door on the first floor.

As we were driving, we had a brush with fame! A man, who I’m almost positive was Rodney Crowell himself, had just checked in and was standing outside his door, just 5 doors down from ours! He was thin, short and had scraggly hair under a baseball cap. I’m pretty sure it was him, and the boy was too, after I showed him a picture of Rodney on a CD cover! That town is so small; the only two hotels are the Red Lion and the Best Western. There were also big tour buses in the parking lot that night.

Anyway, that was enough to get my knees shaking! Wow, that’s cool to be staying in the same hotel as the band! I kept peeking out to see if he would come out again, or if any other band members were out there. But it was getting late, and I needed to take a shower still and get ready for the show.

We met R for dinner at 5:00-ish, then hung out and waited for our friend, who used to coach with R, to show up. G and his wife live near Florence and were excited to spend some time with R. This was perfect, because they sat up in the grassy terraced area in chairs, while the boy and I parked our blanket about 4 blankets back from the stage, front and center! Cool!

Will Kimbrough

We were all set to go, and I could see Will behind the stage (it was basically open, with some sheer black curtains behind it) with his acoustic guitar warming up. I wanted to go say hi, but refrained. I know from his blogs he was in his warm-up mode that he does before his shows to loosen up. The boy was excited. He insisted we wear our hats, too! So cute.

Will opened the show with “Piece of Work” and also played the following: Made Your Bed You Got to Lay in it, Grownup Now, Black/White [not sure of the exact title], Another Train, Life, Everyone’s in Love (boy’s favorite, and he sang along with a smile on his face, sweet baby), Modern World, and I think a few more.

They took a little break, so I took the boy with me to see if we could talk to them, and he asked if Will would sign his hat. Will did, then I turned to him and introduced myself. He shook my hand, and thanked me for coming. I then introduced him to the boy, and he shook his hand. He got a big thrill over that. I let him go, as other people were waiting to get autographs.

Then we could see Rodney behind the purchase table tuning up his guitar. He looked busy, so we didn’t ask for autographs yet. We found our seats and waited. It wasn’t long before Rodney came on. Yep, that was him at the Red Lion!

Rodney Crowell

He played many songs, some from his new album, The Outsider, then others from previous albums including:

Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This, Fate’s Right Hand, Still Learning How to Fly, Say You Love Me, Dancin’ Circles Round the Sun, a song Keith Urban sang to Nicole Kidman on their wedding day that Rodney wrote and sang, I Walk the Line (Revisited) and Will sang Johnny’s part in his lowest range! Ended with Like a Rolling Stone with the audience helping out! He did one more slow song at the end, and we all stood up near the front of the stage. It was awesome! The boy was thoroughly impressed, although a little antsy during Rodney’s long set, since he didn’t know all of the songs. It was a little chilly out, too.

After the show, we found Rodney and he signed my hat with both our names on it. I thanked him for coming, told him this was boy’s first concert. He seemed a little tired, and had other people waiting. Not real talkative, but nice. He has great cheekbones! His face was lined vertically and was a little pale. Lots of travel and life have creased him.

We hung around a few minutes, then the boy said he wanted Will to sign his polo shirt! So we found Will packing up guitars on the stage. I yelled, “Hey, Will!” He said, “Yeah?” “My son wants you to sign his shirt!” So Will jumped down off the stage and had his pen ready in his pocket. He gladly signed the back of his shirt.

I can’t remember the whole conversation. I was trying to soak it all in, but at the same time felt very self-conscious for bugging him again. It went something like this: I think I told him that was a great show, and this is the boy’s first concert. He asked boy how old he was, and he said 10. Will asked if he was in 5th grade, and then said his daughter is in 6th grade this year. I then asked if his other daughter was in kindergarten, I remembered from reading one of his blogs. He said yes, she was. He said he was heading to San Diego to go to a wedding and maybe do some surfing! He also wanted to take his kids to Sea World. He also thanked us for making the “long haul” down from Seattle. I said it took us about 8 hours! I don’t think I said a whole lot after that, just thanked him and shook his hand again. Well, it was good to finally meet him.

We found R, got the truck and headed back to the hotel. It was soooo worth the drive. And R was thrilled to meet up with his friend and his wife. They enjoyed the concert, too, so I feel my musical evangelism paid off. I did my part to spread the Rodney and Will Word!


On October 12, P and I went to see Todd Snider at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get anyone to go with us. Their loss, it was a great show! I told P to see if anyone from work wanted to go. He didn’t seem to believe me how big this was going to be. He never thinks anyone else but me likes these bands! [After a few years, he now knows better!] Well, the place was packed, probably 250 people there!

We got to Ballard around 7:00 after dropping the boy off at Mom and Dad’s. Then we were hungry, but decided we’d better find a place to park first. It took us about 15-20 minutes to find a place to park! [the usual pain in Ballard] Then we went directly to the Tractor to see what was up. The opening act, Joy Mills, was doing a sound check and there were a few people milling about. I noticed they had chairs set up, so then we got to thinking we’d better get in early and reserve our seats up close. So we went across the street first and grabbed ale and ate some peanuts to sustain us for a little bit! No one had food! Tractor only had TV dinners, they said. But the guy at the door did say to try Hattie’s Hat, which was 2 doors down, and then bring it in the Tractor! Cool!

So I got our seats in the second row while Pat picked up the most amazing salmon BLT and fries from Hattie’s! Yum! Then the show started. Joy Mills was good, but it was just her and her acoustic guitar. She was a little slow, but the songs were ok. The audience was pretty silent and polite, until the last couple of songs when more people showed up and more people were on their second or third drink.

There was a short break, in which I was hoping they’d bring out the piano, drum set, extra guitars, etc. But, alas, Todd was solo that night. We saw him walk in with his road guy, Elvis (I guess that’s his real name) and a couple other people.

You can’t miss Todd. He wears this big floppy felt hat all the time now.

He had on a baseball type shirt with black sleeves, with a vest over it, rolled up jeans and Converse tennis shoes that he immediately took off when he stepped onto the stage. Barefoot, he looks like a hobo.

He started playing immediately–I think he started with the song Old Times. He also played the following:

Horseshoe Lake (one of my favorites)


I Can’t Complain

You Got Away With It

Looking for a Job


Easy Money

Tillamook County Jail

Iron Mike

Kingsmen Ballad

The Devil You Know

Conservative Christian Right Wing Republican….

Play a Train Song

He was like a comedian/singer. He had little anecdotes about each song–many were the same as what he wrote in liner notes in the CD’s, but that’s ok, it clued people in on the humor/point of the songs. He also said something about going through the Multnomah tunnel by his old hometown near Portland. He said everyone used to paint graffiti in there, and all of it would end in the word “rules” such as Portland High School Rules! Etc. So after a show, he decided he’d write “Todd Snider Rules” in big letters. It was so full of graffiti, that you’d actually have to clean the wall by using white paint to paint over the other graffiti. He said his tour manager that he thought was a guy for years but that’s another story, was supposed to stop him from doing stupid things like that! As they were passing through the tunnel the next day, one of the road crew said, “Oh, the kids must have liked your show last night, Todd!”

I don’t know– he can spin a yarn with much more humor in person than I can possibly convey here. The audience was real receptive to his little jokes and remarks as well as his very funny lyrics. P was very attentive and really enjoyed him, too. I took about 10 pictures [disposable camera], so we’ll see if they turn out. I tried to get his bare feet in a couple of them.

The bummer was he also wasn’t feeling well after partying in Portland the night before, so he was not in the mood to do a meet’n’greet afterward. So we waited for about ½ hour to see if he’d come out. Finally, this couple from Juneau, AK asked Elvis if he was coming, and Elvis said he’d already left. Darn! We were upset. One girl had her tree huggin’ hippie shirt on, had her two CD liner notes out in her hand ready for him to sign. She was bummed. I told her to also listen to Will Kimbrough, and she hadn’t heard of him. Hopefully she’ll remember he’s on the liner notes.

The Juneau couple were big fans. They had flown down specifically for the show. They were also planning to go see him on New Year’s Eve somewhere back East. They were probably in their mid-20’s. The guy was good-looking, but the girl was absolutely striking, with long black hair and big, dark blue eyes. She must have stood 6’ 2”! Anyway, the guy was so funny because in the middle of Todd’s show, he came stumbling down the aisle to try to get Todd to give him a high-five! He just stood there and waited for his high-five, with his right hand poised in front of Todd. But Todd was in the middle of a guitar solo, and had his eyes closed. The guy must have stood there for 10 seconds, while the audience laughed, then “awwwed” him as he returned with head bowed to his seat. It was so funny! I didn’t think Todd noticed or cared. But then during the next song, or maybe he waited for a second one, Todd said, “Where’s that guy who wanted to give me a high-five?” And of course, the guy ran right back up and was all excited! Todd obligingly gave him the five, and then the guy wanted a knuckle pound, then another high-five! It was so funny! Todd said something after he took his seat, like, “Geez, I thought the guy was going to take over the show!”

So anyway, it was really fun, P had a great time, but we would have loved to have seen a full band show.


Next up…Van Morrison! November 4. P just figured out how much the tickets cost us! Ouch! But Mr. Morrison’s a once-in-a-lifetime shot. He hardly ever tours, and when he does he has been really shy, to the point of playing with his back toward the audience. This time, it sounds like he’s loosened up and is enjoying himself.

Van Morrison was well worth the price of admission (2 seats $500), but our seats sucked. He played at a new venue, called the WaMu Theater, part of the Seahawks Qwest Events Center. It looked like a big warehouse, with exposed pipes and beams in the ceiling. I was suspicious when I ordered the tickets as to where we would be sitting. Although we had Row 5, the section was E. My suspicions were correct. We were placed on the far left end of the stage, past diagonal. P couldn’t see all of the band members from his side, left of me. I couldn’t see the fiddle player, except for his fiddle. So the whole night, although Van was about 30 feet from us, was spent looking at the backsides of the vocalists and a side view of Van. I was very disappointed. The stage was also about 6 feet high, so it made it even harder to look up from that angle. The theater held maybe a couple thousand people.

The sound was great, though, and Van was in top form. He brought along a ten-piece band which included three vocalists, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, fiddle, steel guitar, organ, drums, and he played sax and harmonica. He came out swaggering to the stage pumping on that harmonica. He’s so good. Very cool in a black suit and felt fedora. He’s a stumpy, barrel-chested fellow, not real talkative with the audience, but was having a good time onstage.

He played a lot of songs I recognized, but hadn’t heard in quite awhile, and not ones I had on my Greatest Hits albums. I really liked the music, though, and he really kept it upbeat most of the time. Lots of boogie-woogie, some country (his new album, Pay the Devil does a lot of country covers), and classic Van. He ended with Moon Dance, Brown Eyed Girl and Gloria, which got everyone on their feet. P enjoyed the music, but was a little bored and disappointed in the seats.

April 3, 2010 Posted by | Americana, Concert Season 2006, Marymoor Park, Music, Rodney Crowell, The Gorge Amphitheatre, Todd Snider, Tom Petty, Van Morrison, Will Kimbrough | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Willie Nelson and Friends 7.4.2007

4th of July 2007 at the Gorge-Willie Nelson and Friends: The Old 97’s, Drive-By Truckers, Son Volt, Amos Lee

The next big gig was at the Gorge in George. Not only were we pumped because Willie Nelson was playing, but also because he was bringing along his “friends”, 4 other bands! And we were also going to go to the Oregon Coast after that!

We first drove to Wenatchee on the 3rd and spent the night with family. The kids had fun in the pool, and the dogs hung out together. The next morning, we left the boy and dog with Aunt and Uncle and drove through the desert over to the Gorge, about 45 minutes from Wenatchee. It was 98 degrees that day.

We found a pretty nice parking spot to camp, but the shuttle van had broken down. That meant hiking at least a half mile in the heat to get to the amphitheatre. Great. We decided to stay at the truck as long as possible. We set up a makeshift shelter with a rain fly from our tent. We brought lots of food and water, and just lay low for a while.

We thought we could probably hear the music once it started, but we were wrong! We were too far away. We missed Amos Lee completely, and only heard part of Drive-By Truckers. That was ok, though, because it was too hot to sit on those metal seats on black top. We stayed as cool as we could, and then finally made our way down to the seats around 4:00.

Old 97's

We fell in love with the Old 97’s. We downloaded some of their live music a few days before, and really liked their Texas rockabilly sound. They really delivered in the heat of the Gorge. Son Volt was ok, but not too exciting. Their music is kind of a downer. We couldn’t wait to see Willie Nelson. He’s truly an American icon.

Willie came on just as the sun was going down. Beautiful. Gray braids, red, white and blue guitar strap, old beat up acoustic guitar with a hole in it….Willie. I was in tears through many songs, including my favorite, Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground. I later learned to play it on my own guitar: On the Road Again was a big hit. He played all his old favorites. At the end he played a song about finding a peaceful solution to the wars. It was touching.

We headed back to Wenatchee the next morning and picked up the boy. We headed down 97 to Cascade Locks, just West of Hood River. Stayed overnight, then trekked on to Newport and Seaside. We had a nice trip, but not much relaxation! Lots of driving. The beach was a cool 60 degrees, too. Quite a change from the 100 degree weather we were in the day before.


March 28, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2007, Music, The Gorge Amphitheatre, Willie Nelson | , , , , , | Leave a comment