Aplscruf's Music Blog

Randomville via Margaritaville, Huntsville and Nashville

SOUTHERN EXPOSURE: ROAD TRIPPING THROUGH ALABAMA AND TENNESSEE

I recently had an opportunity to take a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama and Nashville, Tennessee.  Struggling in Seattle where we’ve had nothing but rain and gray weather for almost nine months, I was ready for some 90 degree heat and humidity and a chance to see some live music along the way.  My husband’s home office is in Madison, Alabama near Huntsville and the Tennessee border.  He was already there on business, so my son and I joined him later in the month.  I also had a chance to report on the music scene for Randomville.  

PART I:  GULF SHORES, ALABAMA

Alabama

Day 1:  Seattle to Atlanta, GA, then West to Smith Lake, AL

My son and I were up and out of the house by 6:25, and headed to my parents’ house.  Dad drove us to the airport without incident.  Traffic was easy.  I’d printed out my airline tix the night before, so we went right to the short security line.

I let the boy lead the way through the line, making sure I took off my shoes and had my little clear baggie of liquids (sun screen, shampoo, lotion, etc.) ready for the X-ray machine.  I looked up to see my 15 1/2 year old boy getting a pat-down.  WTF.  Then the TSA agents asked me to step inside the big blue X-ray box.  WTF again?!  I then entered the pat-down area.  A short woman, probably in her early twenties, told me she was going to pat me down.  “Do you feel comfortable with my patting you down?”

I could feel my eyes narrow, as I sarcastically said, “Uhh, sure.”

She paused.  “Would you prefer we go into a private location for the pat-down?”

“No, just get ‘er done.”

Did I really just say that??  Anyway, I let her pat me down there in front of god and everyone.

“I’m now touching your sensitive area…”  A quick swipe with the fingers around my bra.  I was wearing a tight t-shirt and  jeans.  I don’t know what I possibly could have been hiding in either location.

I was pretty pissed, but decided to stay calm so we could make our flight on time.  I had to choose my battles, and right now, I wanted to get to our gate.  End of story.

A young man outside the screening area  thought he was being singled out and profiled because of his his tattoos.  I told him both my son and I were patted down, too.

The boy and I got some great bagels and found our gate with about 1/2 hour to spare.  We called P and told him about our pat-down and X-ray adventure.  He laughed because after all his flying this past year, he’s never been subjected to that humiliation…Fer Freedom.  Yeah, right.

Our plane was very full.  We pulled out of the gate a little early, though, and made our way to the runway, and waited for 3 other planes to take off.  We were almost to the runway, when an interior ceiling panel came loose and drooped into the aisleway!  The flight attendant tried to quickly push it back, but then had to call ahead and ask a mechanic to meet them back at the gate.  We had to turn around!  Aargh.  Everyone groaned, then got out their cameras and phones and snapped pictures.  The lady next to me had it posted on her Facebook within two minutes!

Ceiling Panel of 737

Two mechanics and 45 minutes later, they got it fixed, which amounted to tucking the panel back in around the lip of the frame (a kid yelled, “I coulda done that!) and we were on our way again.  Because they had to go back to the gate, the flight attendants were required by law to run through the exit/seatbelt/oxygen routine all over again.  How stupid.  Sometimes one just needs to use the Common Sense Law.  Gawd.

After a smooth flight and no further incidents, we landed in Atlanta.  P was there to pick us up in the work van and we headed west to Smith Lake, Alabama to spend a quick night before our long drive to the Gulf.  Smith Lake is a beautiful, tree-lined lake that sprawls out with hundreds of miles of shoreline.  We were invited to stay in the company president’s home in a gesture of true Southern hospitality.  The home was beautiful with lake views from each window, large decks and screened porch, and patio areas suited for giant parties.  We had the whole place to ourselves that night, and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.  The loud chirping and hissing of cicadas were replaced with bird songs in the early morning.  I stepped out on the deck and felt the moist air hit my skin.  I felt like I’d just stepped out of the shower.  Steam was rising from the lake.  It was going to be hot, humid day today.

Smith Lake

Day 2:  Smith Lake to Gulf Shores

We cleared out about 9:00 and stopped in the small town of Jasper for a quick breakfast.  We stepped in a little local diner called Gabby’s.  We were looked up and down as we timidly took our seats at a small booth.  It was so obvious we were not locals.  P, who has been traveling back in forth to Alabama for the last 10 months, knew how to order.  How Y’All Doin?  Sweet or unsweet tea, or half-n-half.  Turnip greens and chicken-fried steak.  I stuck to an iceberg lettuce salad with sweet tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese and a thin turkey sandwich.  The boy had his first taste of southern BBQ.  He loved his smoky, chopped BBQ pork sandwich.

Alabama Interstate

The rural road that led from Jasper to the Interstate was gorgeous.  We passed through corridors of 50 foot green trees of different varieties; the most recognizable being the beautiful pines.  Little farms and distant houses dotted the horizon.  Cemeteries were laden with a rainbow of flowers, which P pointed out are made of silk or plastic.  Each cemetery we saw was full of color.

Once we got to the Intestate, there were more small towns and churches lining each side of the highway.  The boy couldn’t believe how many churches there were and wondered why.  I didn’t really have an answer to that.  It’s just how it is in the South–the Bible Belt.  Many highways, bridges and side streets and buildings were all named after some famous and not-so-famous dead people: James K. Polk Memorial Highway, etc.

The buildings had a Roman/colonial look, down to the smallest farm house, with white columns, a triangular entry way over the door, brick facade.  Red clay was prominent in Alabama, so it was no wonder why so many buildings and homes were made of brick.  The highway had a reddish tint in parts.

We drove for hours, south to Gulf Shores.  It seemed to make a decent recovery from the horrible oil spill last year, although the spring tornado damage all along the interstate was enough to take my breath away.  People seem to move slowly forward here, though; some businesses re-opened, and damaged areas were getting cleaned up.  The devastation was phenomenal, and not just located in Tuscaloosa; we found pockets of damage all over the state.  I really don’t know how families fully recover, if at all, from such sudden and violent destruction.  We could only hope we helped out the economy a little by paying a visit to the local restaurants, gas stations and shops along the way.

Tornado Damage in Tuscaloosa

Gulf Shores and its sister town Orange Beach, are family-friendly, laid-back vacation havens.  This is not the place to be if you want to have a jet-set high-class experience in swanky nightclubs and posh restaurants.  You can head for Malibu or Miami for that.  We  stayed in a little hotel suite in Gulf Shores.  Most condos and hotels we noticed were pretty much the same, with hotels being a bit better deal because of the small living room, kitchen, and no added condo fees.

Gulf Shores View from Balcony

We arrived late in the afternoon and hauled a vanload of crap up to the ninth floor.  I immediately opened our sliding door to check out the spectacular view from our deck.  It was so warm and perfect.  I could hear the waves hit the beach and terns call each other.  Pelicans flew right by our window.  Little blue umbrellas and lounge chairs were set up in perfect rows.  The sand was white and went on for miles in each direction.

We were hungry, and it was already getting dark, so we thought we’d grab a bite before hitting the beach.  We crossed the street to Tequila West, located inside a hotel.  Although the atmosphere outside on the patio wasn’t so pleasant (smokers and lots of little kids running around and crying, cars driving by) the food was delicious, and the margaritas and tequila sunrises were strong.

We took a walk in the soft sand and stuck our toes in the warm Gulf water before heading to our room to finish unpacking.  Not a hint of a chill in the water.

Day 3-5:  At the Beach

After a restless sleep, we woke ourselves up with strong coffee, pancakes and ham cooked in our little kitchen.  We ate out on the deck and took in the humid, salt air.  We let the boy sleep in and finally hit the beach around 10:30.  We rented a couple of lounge chairs and umbrella from the quietly friendly beach attendant.  He informed us we’d get the use of them all day.

Lounging at The Gulf

We played in the calm gulf surf for hours.  It took a long time for me to even get a little bit chilled.  I would simply step out of the surf and hang out on the lounge for a few minutes before jumping back in the green-blue water.  Little finger-length fish swam around our legs, larger foot-long fish wove their way through the small groups of people.  We saw dolphins earlier in the morning.  Kids were playing with hermit crabs and a dad caught a jelly fish in a bucket.  Life was returning to The Gulf.

Hangin’ Out with The Boy

In the afternoon, we showered, had a light lunch and decided to take a drive along the long spit that paralleled The Gulf, from Pensacola, Florida to the east to Fort Morgan to the west.  We went east to say we made it to Pensacola.  Hotels lined the roadway, with a few public beaches in between.

We started back through Orange Beach toward Gulf Shores.

Forest Fire Near Orange Beach

A big fire started in the pine trees of a state park near Orange Beach that created a huge cloud of smoke over the town.  Luckily for us, the wind blew it away from Gulf Shores. We could see the cloud throughout our drive, and later found out the fire had burned over 500 acres before being contained and doused.

We were back in Gulf Shores and were starting to get hungry again.  We decided to check out Lulu’s, Jimmy Buffett’s “Crazy Sistah’s” restaurant.  It sits back on the canal in Gulf Shores, next to Homeport Marina.  It has open-air seating, live music, a couple of bars, and a sand lot for the kids.  There are also original arts and crafts booths and a souvenir shop.  The food was great.  We ordered an appetizer of smoked tuna and crackers, then had blackened fish sandwiches, oysters and shrimp.  We listened to a nice Jamaican steel drum band while we ate.

Lulu’s at Homeport Marina

The next morning, we went back to Orange Beach and checked out a really nice Italian restaurant called Villaggio Grille.  Although the air had a smoky smell from the fire, we were so glad we decided to eat here.  It was Sunday Brunch, and the waiters were so happy to see us.  I’m pretty sure the smoke caused a lot of people to drive elsewhere that weekend.   The staff bent over backwards to serve us, and the food was out of this world.  There was a bakery next door, and Villaggio coordinated with it for biscuits and desserts.  These biscuits were my favorite of the trip.  They were small, but flaky, buttery and sweet.  We then settled in for some amazing brunch food:  The boy had mussels (the waiter kept asking him questions to make sure he knew what he was getting!  We informed him that the boy knows how to eat, and is pretty much an omnivore!), giant shrimp, perfectly cooked and resting on a bed of homemade flat pasta.  I had eggs Benedict with sweet potato hash, country style, in big chunks.  OMG.  It also came with a blueberry muffin, that I saved for later.  P had seared Ahi tuna, and it was perfectly done.  We also shared a nice spring mix salad and two crab cakes–a feast!  We savored every bite.  We will definitely go back here someday, and I felt a little sad when we left, knowing that we wouldn’t be back on this trip.

Fort Morgan

We then drove west to Fort Morgan and toured the old Civil War-era fort.  It was  interesting, and reminded us the local forts on the Washington coast.  The boy enjoyed the tunnels and exploring the little brick alcoves.  It was really hot that day, though, probably close to 98 degrees.  We then drove around the neighboring village and saw some beautiful pastel vacation houses.

Quiet Living on The Gulf

I assume Spring Breakers were at Gulf Shores earlier in the year; but when we were there in late June, most of the visitors were young families.  Although most of the activities offered were for young kids (putt-putt golf, small amusement parks and zoo), we managed to find some quality entertainment for us and our teenage son.

The best venue in Gulf Shores is The Hangout, located right on the beach.  Over Memorial Day weekend, the place gets hopping, and the stage and crowds move to the beach for a big music festival hosting a variety of artists like Foo Fighters, Widespread Panic, Paul Simon, Grace Potter, My Morning Jacket and Cee Lo Green.

The Hangout includes an indoor dining area with large bay doors that open up to the beach.  A small stage on the premises hosts cover bands nightly.  There are a couple of outside bars, and a giant bar next to the dining area.  Kids are allowed to sit at the bar with their adults.  That’s how they roll in The South!

When we were there, we ended up going to The Hangout three out of the four nights we were at The Gulf.  It was enjoyable for us and our son had a great time.  There was a different band playing every night, and they played everything from Johnny Cash to Gnarls Barkley.  The Hangout keeps the youngsters occupied while waiting for their meals by participating in YMCA sing-alongs, massive foam parties, and pirates galore.  They announced people’s birthdays and anniversaries and made the birthday kids (and adults) dance for the rest of the audience.

After four days of sun and sugar-soft sand, we packed up the van and drove our sun-kissed, dark-white bodies north, with a brief overnight stop in Huntsville.  We then continued on to Nashville for a two night stay.

Tennessee

PART II:  NASHVILLE, TN
Loveless Cafe

Nashville, Day 1

First, a stop at the Loveless Cafe, just outside the city of Nashville.  We settled in for some authentic Southern food, complete with biscuits, home-made preserves, country ham and gravy.  Not only does this famous cafe fill up the stomach and the soul, they also host Music City Roots concert and radio show in the Loveless barn every Wednesday.  We were there for an early lunch, so we weren’t able to stay for the show.  At $10 a ticket, it would be worth a trip back.

Nashville

I was excited and admittedly a little anxious about this leg of the journey.  I had so much to see and so little time.  Although Nashville, known as “Music City,” is home to The Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium,

Ryman Auditorium
I didn’t feel like seeing a Patsy Cline tribute or any mainstream auto-tuned country acts on this trip.  I feel like some of those mainstream stars have lost some heart and soul by the time they get to that uber-famous level.  I wanted to see the musicians and singer/songwriters who played in the little clubs and divey bars.  The hard-working ones who still play gigs in town and drive to gigs all over the country.  Most of my favorite shows I’ve seen over the years have been lesser known artists playing in smaller venues.
Will Kimbrough
One artist I wanted to see if he happened to be in town was Nashville resident Will Kimbrough.  I’ve had the honor of meeting and chatting with him over the last few years, so I was hoping we could catch him at a gig in town.  He’s constantly touring, so it was a long shot.
I first heard of Will while listening to Radio Margaritaville several years ago.  Will plays and writes with Jimmy Buffett, so Jimmy in turn plays some of Will’s solo work on his online radio station.  Will is not only a very talented singer/songwriter with a list of solo albums, but he has also produced albums for various artists.  He was “Will” in Will and the Bushmen, the late 80’s alt-pop group, and he currently shares the spotlight with Tommy Womack in Daddy. Will has also played sideman for Todd Snider, Rodney Crowell, and most recently, Emmylou Harris.  He has been nominated and has won “Instrumentalist of the Year” from the Americana Music Association.  He is a self-proclaimed workaholic musician.  Will is so humble; I forget how great he is sometimes.
Will was indeed in town and would be playing guitar for Marshall Chapman at The Station InnMinton Sparks would open the show.
The Station Inn
The Station Inn reminded me of Seattle’s gritty, divey Tractor Tavern, only smaller.  The Station only holds about 100 people and has been around for about 30 years.  It is located in “The Gulch” district, a newly renovated area a few blocks off the main strip, where swanky, expensive restaurants and condos tower over the little brick tavern.  We walked into The Station, though, and felt right at home.
We found a nice old cushioned pew with a small table near the side of the stage and settled in.  We joined Will  for a brief chat before the show began.  We exchanged a beer-bottle toast and he welcomed us to NashVegas.  He said The Station Inn is the Bluegrass Capitol of the World, although this night would be a little different, as we were soon to find out.
Minton Sparks
The opening act, Minton Sparks, is a spoken-word poet and musician–a speaker-songwriter, she calls herself.  She was  dressed like a Southern Belle church lady, down to her little white patent leather purse and matching shoes.  Ms. Sparks had that Southern drawl where the words tend to linger on her lips before being gently released.  She could weave a story so well, and pull us into each character’s life.  A few times I had to pull back and remember where I was; I became mesmerized by each vignette.  Some were a little dirty, some were hysterically funny, and a couple almost made me cry.  Titles and words seemed so simple, but would twist and turn into something completely dark or more complex as the story progressed.  Some of my favorites were “Vicky Pickles’ Mama,” about a bikini-clad middle-aged neighbor;  “Suburban Snake Handler,” which was as dirty as the title implies;  and a yarn about meeting and talking to Minnie Pearl and spilling her soul to her.   Minton brought along John Jackson who played acoustic guitar and followed and adjusted his volume and tempo to match her characters’ mannerisms and quirks and jerks.

Marshall Chapman is a very busy singer/songwriter, author of two books, and recently simultaneously released a new album, Big Lonesome and nonfiction book, They Came To Nashville.

Marshall Chapman

She recently played the road manager to Gweneth Paltrow’s character in the movie Country Strong.
Ms. Chapman greeted us wearing black UnderArmour basketball shorts, an oversized black t-shirt, and bare feet.  Her gray hair was loosely pinned up into a crazy bird’s nest.  I liked her already, and she hadn’t sung a note.  She peered out into the audience and exclaimed, “Not bad for a Wednesday night in Nashville!”

Marshall’s latest songs are mostly folk/Americana, but her roots go back to rock ‘n’ roll.  Her songs, like Minton Sparks’ words, tell a story.  Some were more personal than others, such as “Tim Revisited,” and “Down to Mexico,” both written about Tim Krekel, her deceased friend and music partner.  She said sometimes the songs write her.
A few times in between songs, she would break out her latest book, They Came To Nashville, and read passages.  I enjoyed her story about asking Willie Nelson for an interview for her book; and after not being able to set a date with him due to his busy schedule, he invited her to travel around with him on his tour bus for a few nights.  Marshall also wrote a song about the experience called “Riding With Willie.” She has a very natural way of storytelling, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind and share a bit of her heart.  She strums to the rhythm of her own guitar; she is truly unique, and I completely admire her.

Will Kimbrough accompanied Marshall onstage.  Will’s guitarmanship was in fine form, although a bit subdued to match the folk genre and Station atmosphere.  He had some slow solos that showcased his total instrumental control.  He played a bluesy slide, and interchanged his two guitars to match the mood of the song.  The mostly quiet and polite audience responded with loud whoops and applause when Ms. Chapman introduced him after one such solo.
PART III:  NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, DAY 2

The next night, we decided to check out Broadway.  The street is lined with vintage neon signs advertising honky-tonk bars and kitschy restaurants and shops.  You can find every imaginable souvenir mug, magnet, bedazzled t-shirt, and Elvis likeness.  Made in China.  If you look closely, though, you can also find the beautiful Gruhn Guitar shop filled with vintage Martin acoustics, Fender and Gibson electrics, banjos, mandolins, and Dobros.  We also stumbled upon Hatch Show Print, which has been printing show posters since 1879.  We found one for Wanda Jackson and Old 97’s and purchased them on the spot.
I loved walking down the sidewalk on Broadway and hearing different music from each venue spilling out into the night.  Every few steps was a different sound:  Mainstream country covers, tribute bands, bluegrass and karaoke.  There is no cover charge for most bars; the musicians survive on money left in tip jars.  We wanted to go to Tootsie’s, a tiny bar with good country rock, but it was completely packed–standing room only.  I wanted to stand outside and listen, but the sidewalks were crowded, and people were pushing to get through.
We moved to the next bar, called “Second Fiddle.”  It was a long, skinny bar, dark and dead silent, except for the county cover band trying to get everyone’s attention on this Thursday night.  The band was fairly decent; but not good enough to hold our attention for more than one drink, so we left.  We weren’t sure where to go next; we were a bit tired from our late night and from hoofing it all over the city earlier that day.
Layla’s
Then…the sound that captures my soul…old-timey, Outlaw Country!  We peered in the picture window of Layla’s Bluegrass Inn and saw the upright bass getting spanked, flying fiddle rosin, a frontman with a mohawk and tattoos, a rockabilly drum beat, and guitar player who looked and sounded like Ken Bethea of Old 97’s.  We were in!
Slim Chance Through the Chicken Wire
Layla’s was tiny half empty (or haf full, depending on how one looks at it), and half of the people were half-drunk.  We decided to catch up, and ordered Pabst Blue Ribbons and saddled up to a tall round table close to the stage.  The PBR slid down like water, and we ordered a couple more.
Slim Chance and the Can’t Hardly Playboys
That little band blew us away.  And their name, perfection:  Slim Chance and the Can’t Hardly Playboys!  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Within minutes after our arrival, they broke into a rollicking version of Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” followed by a Waylon Jennings number, Hank III and then my favorite train song, “Orange Blossom Special.”  Josh Headley almost caught that fiddle on fire during his rendition of that song.  They played a few more songs that were equally rowdy and a little dirty.
Bass and Fiddle Hamming It Up
Slim and the boys play at Layla’s every Thursday night.  I wanted them to come to Seattle and fire up The Tractor.  They’d fit right in.  I wanted to get up and dance, but instead, I let the ex-football player white guy at the other table get up and act like a fool.  I took a few pictures and the band hammed it up for me.  I could’ve stayed the rest of the night until they kicked me out; but we had to be responsible parents and get home at a reasonable hour, and try to act sober.

On our way out of town the next day, we stopped by Third Man Records,
Third Man Records
snapped some pics and purchased some t-shirts in the tiny storefront.  We were hoping for a tour, but they were busy that week.  It was pretty amazing just to be there and see the Rolling Record Store up close.  There are hundreds of vinyl records on sale from the many bands that are now on Jack White’s label.  Lots of cool souvenirs and shirts, too.

Rolling Record Store

I wish we had more time to explore Nashville.  I would have loved to see more shows at some of the other smaller, but well-known venues such as The Bluebird Cafe and The Basement, and also visit the historical United Record Pressing, but it wasn’t meant to be on this trip.
My Southern experience exceeded my expectations.  The Gulf weather was warm, the countryside was beautiful, and the people were friendly.  I embraced the South, and it embraced me.  And Nashville still has a heart and soul, if you know where to look.

July 14, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Music, Randomville, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

Jimmy Buffett Live in Auburn September 16, 2003

It looks like August 2010 will be a slow month for shows.  Nothing scheduled.  I will continue to hunt down and post old concert journals…

Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band

White River Amphitheatre, Auburn, WA

September 16, 2003

P and I went to the Jimmy Buffett concert in Auburn.  There is a new amphitheatre on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation called the White River Amphitheatre.  I heard it was beautiful, but the parking was a nightmare.  We decided to park at the Muckleshoot Casino and take a shuttle bus to the concert, which is only about 5 miles away.

We had to leave after work to start the long commute south.  I left about 3:30 and we took off from home at almost 4:30.  It was one of the drizzly gray days of the month, and the traffic was terrible.  We crawled along in the diamond lane.  It took about an hour to work our way to Auburn.  P and I hardly spoke the whole way down because he had to go to the bathroom and was tired.  He hated traffic.  I brought along a breakfast cookie, so at least I wasn’t starving.  I was also mad at him because he refused to wear his Hawaiian shirt, even though I told him we would be “underdressed” compared to the rest of the Parrot-Heads that attend Jimmy’s concerts.  This was our first one, so P didn’t really know what to expect.  He thought he would be too cold, and refused to even wear it under his sweatshirt.  I wore mine, even though I later had to pull on a wool sweater underneath it.

We finally made it to the casino around 6:00.  The concert started at 8:00, but I wanted to be there about 7:00 to watch the hula contest.  We were so hungry and thirsty, though, we decided to go into the casino and get some drinks and a snack.  Once inside, we quickly realized we were not the only ones going to the show that night.  We were definitely underdressed.  There were people with Panama hats with parrots, palm trees, junior mints, little planes, and flowers stuck all over them.  People wore their Hawaiian shirts and leis with pride, even though they had to wear sweatshirts underneath them.  I wore a pink lei, but P once again refused to wear his, even though I bought him a white one.  He stuffed it in his coat and later put it on after a few more drinks at the concert.  [Wow, he’s really not that uptight anymore!  He’s learned how to live it up a little and get silly.]

The crowd waiting outside the casino was immense.  We were about 100 people back in line, so we didn’t make the first bus.  There were supposed to be 3 buses, but they were so slow.  Later, we found a guy at the show who said he got to the casino at 7:00 and was 45 minutes late to the concert because he had to wait for a bus!  That’s terrible.  He was so mad.  We made it on the second bus (barely) and it took a good 20 minutes to get to the venue.  There was no separate bus lane on the two-lane road.  The traffic was a mess.  It was much less organized than the Gorge.

We got to the concert about 10 minutes before the show started.  I was mad we missed the hula contest and didn’t have time to look around.  We got some beer and food and found our seats.  That was another disappointment.  Our seats were so far back, Jimmy was only about 1/2 inch tall.  A lady in front of us was decked out in a foam shark hat, Hawaiian shirt, lei, etc.  She said she bought tickets one week after us and ended up one row in front of us!  I was pissed.  I usually purchase tickets the minute they go on sale.  She was funny, though.  she snuck in this 18″ tall margarita under her jacket. “For godssakes,” she kept saying.  She had been to 7 Buffett concerts and her husband, who wore a giant, red parrot hat, had been to 4.  They were quite the fans.  Really nice people.  I think this made P feel more comfortable, knowing that I wasn’t the only crazy one.

The show started with loud drumming.  A hula guy came out with an air cannon full of leis that he shot into the crowd.  Of course, we were too far back to catch one.  Meanwhile, a fire-eater twirled a huge baton of flaming torches to the beat of the drums.  Hula girls danced.  Then Jimmy and the band came out.  There were cheers and screams from the crowd.  He played all his greatest hits, plus some fun numbers like the swinging, “Thank God the Tiki Bar is Open”.  He exclaimed, “Work, work, work!”  His job is so tough.  He also played I Still Miss Someone as a tribute to Johnny Cash, who died earlier that week.  The crowed wildly cheered and sang along to “Margaritaville”.   He had a 15 member band, including saxophones, trumpet bongos, steel drums, keyboard, steel guitar, electric and acoustic guitars, drum kit, singers (including  the lovely and talented Ms. Nadira Shakour) and several dancers.  It was such an entertaining show.  A great “first” concert.  I would definitely see him again; only it would be nice to see him in some tropical place, not in 45 degree weather.  I purchased the album afterward.  They recorded the show from start to finish:  Jimmy Buffett Live in Auburn.   

There were three big screens that showed video and home movie footage of things like Jimmy out on a sailboat in the Caribbean, Jimmy on a huge coast guard ship, then more local pics and video of him on a ferry in Puget Sound, wandering in downtown Seattle, and crazy videos of the Parking Lot Parrot Heads living it up before the show.  There were also giant animatronic tiki gods on each end of the stage.  A huge “Tiki Time Tour” sign done in bamboo was in the backdrop.  The band were dressed in bowling shirts with tiki gods on them.  Jimmy wore a long-sleeved yellow t-shirt and bright red slacks.  No shoes.  He looked cold!

He came back for an ovation.  We stayed through the first song, then I told P we’d better leave.  I started wondering what the bus line would be like.  I hardly ever leave a concert early, but this time I knew it would be a wise decision.  I was glad we did.  There was already a huge crowd of about 100 people queued up – actually, just wandering in a pack waiting in the general area where the bus dropped us off.  I started getting nervous when I saw the crowds and the lack of movement of the cars and buses.  No one seemed to be getting out, and more people and cars were coming!  About 10 minutes later, a bus pulled up.  People started pushing their way toward the bus.  There was only one parking attendant trying to control at least 100 people.  there were no cones or roped-off areas to tell people where to even stand for the bus and keep them in an orderly line.  So, everyone just stood in a pack and tried to elbow their way to the front of the bus.  We got to the front of the bus, but were stopped by the parking attendant because the bus was full and was trying to pull out.

Naturally, we had to wait, but would be the first ones on the next bus–in a normal situation.  With the crowd building and getting anxious to get on the next bus, it was almost impossible to keep in front of the pack.  It started to get ugly.  By this time, at least 1/2 hour passed.  The people immediately behind us were also trying to keep in front.  Shouting matches began when anyone tried to stand in front of our little pack.  P suddenly got very assertive and shouted at people to move to the back of the pack, because WE were first on the next bus! 

The next bus, unfortunately, was stuck on the other side of the parking lot trying to make its way through the mess of cars and people exiting.  We had to wait at least another 15 minutes before it could move out and turn around in front of our pack.  The parking lady kept screaming at us to back up, but there was no place to go.  People were already against the fence and no one was budging from their coveted spots.  Some guy with a Panama hat and tons of shell necklaces pushed in and had the nerve to stand right in front of P.  He yelled at him to move to the back and he refused, saying he was here first but left, and wanted to be in the front of the line again.  About 20 people yelled at him in unison to move.  He started to pick a fight with a man about 20 years older and a foot shorter than he.  He said he would find him later and backed off.  We all laughed at the thought of this!  Good luck finding anyone in this mess.  There was a Santa behind us with his plump Indian wife.  He was pissed off and yelling, too.  All of these peace-and-love Parrot Heads were going against their fun-loving nature and were turning ugly, including ourselves, all for a ride on the damn bus.

The bus arrived.  The driver, a short man of about 130 lbs, inched his way down a step in the doorway and looked fearfully at the crowd shoving its way toward his bus.  He yelled that he was not to be crowded or touched, or he would get back in his bus and leave without any of us!  P was still yelling that we would be first on this bus.  We did get on first, but it wasn’t easy.  We really had to push and shove to get there.  I thought I was going to lose P in the push to the front.  I gripped his hand as tight as I could.  Santa got on behind us, too.  One group of friends got on, but only part of their party made it.  The rest got lost in the crowd as the bus pulled away.  One lady was really worried because she got on, but her friend with the car keys did not.  She was going to have to wait in the casino for probably a good hour until they showed up, with hope, on the next bus.

It was a nightmare.  I don’t think I’ll ever go back there.  At one point, I even thought aloud about pooling all our cash and begging a limo driver in the parking lot to give us a ride if he had room.  The lady who was missing part of her party said, “Don’t bother; I already tried it.  They wouldn’t even talk to me.”

We didn’t get home until 1:00 am.  I was wiped out.  At least the show was fun.  P had an ok time during the show, but I just don’t think he enjoys going to concerts.  [He’s come a long way since 2003!  Praise God.]

August 7, 2010 Posted by | 2003, Jimmy Buffett, Music, White River Amphitheatre | , , | Leave a comment