King Koncert: Memoirs of an American Rocker
by Tim Van Schmidt
January 24- Lincoln Center. Kodo.
A friend who knew I liked live music insisted that I accompany him to the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins to see the Kodo drummers. By this time, my interest in “world music” had expanded beyond the African influences of the Bay Area’s world beat movement and Kodo brought dramatic Japanese drumming to the stage.
According to the promotion flyer for this two-night stand at the Lincoln Center, Kodo was a group of drummers who “have lived communally on Sado Island in the Sea of Japan since 1971. Their activities are centered on the ‘taiko’ (traditional Japanese drum), perhaps the most primal of all instruments.” The flyer further explained that the name Kodo had two meanings: “The first interpretation is ‘Heartbeat’, for it is said that the sound of the great taiko resembles a mother’s heartbeat as heard and felt from within the womb. The second meaning, ‘Children of the Drum’, expresses Kodo’s desire to play the drums purely, with the heart of a child.”
The promotion flyer also defined the purpose of the group’s One Earth Tour: “In ancient Japan the taiko was the symbol of the rural community and it is said that the village limits were not solely determined by geography but by the furthest distance at which the taiko could be heard. It is Kodo’s hope on the One Earth Tour, to bring the sounds of the taiko to the ears of the people around the world, so that we might all be reminded of our membership in that much larger and more important village of the world.” The words, however, paled completely compared to the group’s performance.
At the Lincoln Center, Kodo took the stage with a determined intensity. They were an energetic ensemble and moved fluidly through a series of choreographed rhythm pieces, using various combinations of instruments. The lighting was keyed into the positions of the individual drummers whose arrangement on the stage itself was a part of the show, the drums and the costumed players creating a pleasing visual symmetry.
But the visual aspect of the show also involved the drummers’ use of their hands and arms. While some players nailed down a rhythm, others would raise their mallets high in the air and strike dramatically for rhythmic counterpoint. The players would also lean way back away from their drum before laying into their part. The drummers took their places and sat with a formal stiffness- until the action of playing made them emote through facial expressions. The drumming was approached nearly as a martial art, exuding discipline and exactitude. The players did not smile or attempt to pander to the crowd. Instead, they were intense about their playing- an intensity that built upon the complex rhythms and mixture of instruments to create a resounding effect.
The most memorable moment, of course, was the very effective finale. The drummers were stripped of costuming, down to a kind of loin-cloth wrap, and a big, man-sized drum was wheeled onto the stage. The player stood his ground next to the instrument and dramatically reared back to hit it. Mostly naked, the player’s muscles were part of the show. The effect was a thunderous sound, greater than the sum of the parts. The rhythms became like a contemporary window to some primal and ancient expression.
Interestingly, a visit to the new Red Rocks visitor’s center in 2003 brought the information that Kodo’s mission in the world had continued for many years. A poster in one display for a 2002 concert revealed that Kodo’s “One Earth Tour” was ongoing- even sixteen years later.
February 15- McNichols Arena. Iggy Pop, Pretenders.
One of my favorite tracks on the Pretenders’ album “Get Close,” was a heavily psychedelic reading of Jimi Hendrix’s “Roomful of Mirrors,” largely successful because of the swirling guitar mania of Robbie McIntosh. When the Pretenders returned to Denver to McNichols Arena, “Roomful of Mirrors” was the opening tune. It was almost disappointing that they played it so early in the set because the intensity the recording revealed was hard to muster with the first count-off.
Since seeing the Pretenders at Red Rocks in 1984, vocalist Chrissie Hynde had a hit with UB40- a remake of the Sonny and Cher song “I Got You Babe. She also had a baby. In 1986 the group had returned with “Get Close” and was playing to larger audiences than ever. This time, however, drummer Martin Chambers was gone, leaving Hynde as the sole original member. Fortunately that did not affect the stage show which at McNichols was slick and powerful. A lot of that had to do with McIntosh’s great guitar work. Hynde held court as a high priestess of rock with a tough, confident demeanor.
Iggy Pop opened the show. Pop was the vocalist for the seminal American punk precursors, the Stooges. As such, he had already earned respect among his peers. In fact, when Chrissie Hynde walked on stage for the Pretenders’ set, she told the crowd what a great honor she thought it was to play on the same stage as Pop- so much so that she got down and kissed the stage.
Pop had been enjoying a resurgence thanks to some successful solo albums, including the 1986 release, “Blah, Blah, Blah,” which was recorded with his on-again, off-again musical collaborator David Bowie. That album yielded a version of “Real Wild Child (Wild One)” that was rough and raw, but also very danceable. At McNichols, Pop played the tune, but it was a ferocious reading of the old Stooges’ favorite “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” that hinted at Pop’s real legacy- an unrepentant, unrefined blast of uncontrolled electricity that made the singer convulse on stage.
March 10- Fort Ram. A.S. Anova, Suburbs.
From Minneapolis, the Suburbs combined a big rock sound with flat, almost psychotically calm vocals. I had turned on to the band through their 1986 self-titled album and was particularly motivated to see them live because of the song “Superlove.”
Even though the show was at Fort Ram, not my favorite venue in Fort Collins, it turned out fine because the Suburbs evidently weren’t well known in northern Colorado- it was a thin crowd, making it comfortable for the listener. The Suburbs did play “Superlove,” but the live version was not as clean or as dramatically paced as on record. The song that worked best that night was “One, Two, Three….” A song using a chorus that anyone could learn to sing along with. Suburbs vocalist Beej Chaney lead the audience. Opening the show was A.S. Anova, a progressive rock fusion outfit heavy on keyboards.
March 25- Mammoth Events Center. Big Audio Dynamite.
In the late 1970s, the Clash’s first album- an import because the American version did not exist when I sought it out- sat right next to the Sex Pistols record in my favorite play stack. Their ferocity was perhaps even more genuine than the Sex Pistols and their politics seemed more bent on change than visceral incitement. However, I would not get to see the band live. Instead, some ten years later I would get to see Big Audio Dynamite, guitarist Mick Jones’ new project after being booted from the Clash in 1983. Big Audio Dynamite was a progressive unit that broke ground by freely mixing rap vocals, electronic tweaking and sampling with savvy rock and soul-based songs. The band’s second album, “No. 10, Upping St.” had been released in 1986- with co-production and co-writing by former Clash band mate Joe Strummer.
My keenest memory of seeing Big Audio Dynamite in Denver, other than the fact that I was nursing a broken toe at the time, was standing at a railing while the group was exploding with the song “Sudden Impact,” featuring the words “The hardcore life is where it’s at.” Indeed, standing next to me was a guy with a tall Mohawk haircut, ripped up jeans and a Clash shirt on. We didn’t look anything alike, but were enjoying the same music- perhaps a poignant comment on the change that had occurred between punk and hardcore punk. Hardcore kids were much more accepting than the original punks had been. Hardcore had become a kind of community that belonged to whoever was participating, therefore a hippie could stand next to a punk and not get bludgeoned.
On stage, Big Audio Dynamite’s music was less defined than the intricate records, but more powerful thanks to the reality of raw electricity. The crowd packing the floor swayed and jumped to the music, moving like a massive wave to the rhythms. Opening the show were two unidentified rap groups, my first taste of rap in a live setting. The beat was prominent, but the words were lost to the point where all that could be heard were vocal punctuations over a relentless mechanical rhythm.
April 1- DV8 Club. Victoria Williams, Golden Palominos with Bernie Worrell, Syd Straw, Anton Fier.
Another trip to the Bay Area to visit friends meant taking the opportunity to check out some live music. That included a jaunt into San Francisco to a back alley nightspot called the DV8 Club.
The occasion was to see the Golden Palominos, a unique recording unit lead by drummer Anton Fier. Over the course of several albums, the “membership” of the Golden Palominos shifted and changed. Fier especially used a variety of vocalists, including stars such as Michael Stipe and Johnny Lydon. The most recent album at the time was the 1986 release “Blast of Silence,” which featured a song titled “Diamond,” with vocalist Syd Straw, and a tune called “(Something Else is) Working Harder,” with ex-Cream bassist Jack Bruce on vocals. The touring band that came to the DV8 Club included Fier, Straw, guitarists Jody Harris, Peter Blegvad and Robert Kidney, guitarist/vocalist Matthew Sweet and keyboardist Bernie Worrell.
The crowd at the club- a tiny room with the half-moon stage sticking out into it- was very thin and there was no crush to see the band. The Golden Palominos, however, went ahead and struck up a powerful, fully electric sound anyway. Straw’s voice was very strong and Sweet’s vocals added an excellent counterbalance. The music had a western-tinged rock sound, but the electricity was layered so heavily that it became nearly psychedelic in its excessive nature. For an encore, the group performed Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean.”
Opening the show was singer-songwriter Victoria Williams, who sang in a high, fragile voice. Her songs were quirky, written about things as simple as a pair of shoes, and her manner was nervous- like a bird. Her debut album, “Happy Come Home,” had just been released and one of the memorable tunes at Club DV8 was “Shoes.”
April 4- Gilman Street Warehouse
Perhaps the single biggest musical revelation I had in the 1980s came when I went into a Fort Collins record store and casually picked up a copy of an underground magazine called Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll. I thought I knew a lot about music and I arrogantly assumed that I would be familiar with the bands featured in the magazine. Quite to the contrary.
As I paged through Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll, I found that I didn’t know anything about any of the bands- none of them! This was my introduction to the underground music movement called “hardcore.” It was based on the aesthetics of punk music and insisted on fostering a do-it-yourself attitude that went from making and selling your own tapes and records- and offering them up at a substantially smaller profit than most commercial records- to booking your own tours and playing in alternative venues known only to the hardcore community. Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll was jammed full of record reviews, band interviews, philosophical columns and “scene reports” from all over the country. It blew me away that I was completely in the dark about this well-established movement. Therefore, I took it upon myself to educate myself.
While on the loose with my Bay Area friend, I convinced him that we should drive into Berkeley and check out a punk haven I had been reading about in Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll- the Gilman Street Warehouse. The facility was located in an industrial district and we had a hell of a time finding it because the addresses were not very prominent. It was also early in the evening and there was no action yet at the club, hence no crowds to tip us off to the club’s location. We parked and as we walked to the club, we noticed that police cruisers were in regular rotation in the vicinity. We found the club entrance and went in to see what it looked like, but as we entered, we were informed that you had to become a “member.”
The membership cost five dollars and I got a generic-looking card that spelled out the concepts and rules of the club: “As a member I recognize that I am personally responsible for my actions and that cooperation with others is in my own self interest. I agree to respect the rights of others to express themselves and recognize my own individual right to self-expression. I understand that the club has been established by and for the membership and that membership extends beyond the entertainment aspects, but also includes my right and responsibility to be involved in its operation, maintenance, and policy direction as I may see fit. I agree to observe the regulations established so that the club can function legally and independently. I agree to abstain from violence, vandalism and the possession of alcohol and drugs in or around the club.”
A flyer explained more details: “Starting six months ago a network of individuals with a lot of different ideas began working at this location in hopes of creating a new and unique venue which will be opened for music, art, and many other forms of communication and interaction. This club is a self-regulating, autonomous club open to all ages and dedicated to the nurturing and re-generation of our culture. This is a space for people to express themselves, interact, and be exposed to new sounds, images, and ideas. The club is run under a membership policy to promote a sense of community and individual involvement…There is also a policy of no advertisement of specific bands- only that shows will take place on given days, hopefully exposing people to a more diverse community experience than a normal club situation. People are always needed to help out and become involved with the club because in building something with people power there is a great need for individual participation…Bands, poets, performers, speakers, and artists from many genres that have something to offer and communicate are welcome to call…”
Having become a member, I entered to check out the consignment sales room, displaying various zines and record releases. I peered into the performance space- wide open, nondescript and completely empty at the time. Outside, my friend and I were deciding what to do next- stay for the shows at Gilman, or go over to a nearby club to catch an Australian band called the Celibate Rifles. As we debated, a guy came up to us and we struck up a conversation with him. His face was severely bruised and he said that he had gotten beaten up recently. He also told us that his band was playing at Gilman that night. Later, I would recognize the guy’s picture in Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll. We had run into Lawrence Livermore, the founder of the band the Lookouts and of Lookout Records. We asked him his opinion of the Celibate Rifles and he said “They’re okay” and with a shrug, shuffled into the club. We moved on as well.
April 4- Berkeley Square. Mr. T Experience, Celibate Rifles.
My friend and I had visited the Berkeley Square club on a road trip to California back in 1981. We had seen Jorma Kaukonen play with an electric band in a benefit for Mono Lake. Since then, the club had become a haven for new bands, including touring hardcore bands.
The Celibate Rifles were from Australia and on stage at Berkeley Square, their set was fast, loud and unrelenting. Vocalist Damien Lovelock had a gregarious stage manner, but his singing was rough, aggressive and manic. The band’s breakneck pace in terms of tempo fit right in with the usual hardcore sound, but an emphasis on loud, thick guitar echoed heavy metal aesthetics more than punk. My friend and I talked afterward about what the effect the music had and he said “I think violent thoughts.”
Despite the aggressive nature of the music, the overall impression the Celibate Rifles left was of a very heavy party band. I would seek out their most recent record release, “Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang,” a live album that easily reflected the group’s sound. Opening was a Bay Area hardcore band, the Mr. T Experience, who combined rapid hardcore punk with lyrical silliness about decidedly retro song subjects such as cows and girls.
April 16- McNichols Arena. Robert Cray, Eric Clapton with Phil Collins.
Since seeing guitarist Eric Clapton in Tempe in 1974, he had become a commercial solo success, cranking out albums and hits with a kind of pop-oriented laid back style. Blues remained a root flavor in his music, but the songs themselves were more important than his guitar playing. This, however, did not mean he did not play guitar. His contemporary work was more song-oriented, but Clapton had the weight of years of recording with John Mayall, Cream, Blind Faith and more pushing from behind.
In 1987, a new compilation of work appeared, titled “The Cream of Eric Clapton,” and his stage show included a liberal amount of this material, almost necessitating that his guitar work would be in the spotlight. This more balanced approach indicated that Clapton had not only achieved new things in his career, but he was also more comfortable with the past.
In Denver, Clapton was joined on stage by drummer Phil Collins, who had produced Clapton’s 1986 album, “August.” I fully expected that Collins would be featured on vocals on at least one of his own tunes, but he wasn’t and played as a strong and able sideman. The most spirited performance of the night was a shimmering and uplifting version of the song “Let it Rain.” Unfortunately, thanks to a traffic jam on the Interstate, we got there late for the opening set by Robert Cray, seeing only the rousing climax. Clapton had recorded one of Cray’s songs on “August” and had appeared with him on stage elsewhere and that respect gave this fresh, young blues artist with a penchant for story-songs a boost. Cray came out on stage and traded licks with Clapton for the final encore of the night.
May 6- Norman’s. Christmas, Husker Du.
Husker Du had originally been hailed as a leading band of the hardcore punk movement. However, they became so popular that they were wooed and won over by a major label recording company and became reviled as crossover sell-outs. This show had originally been scheduled for the Paramount Theatre in Denver, but, due to sluggish ticket sales, was moved to a tiny club called Norman’s in a strip mall out in suburbia. The group was promoting the release of their final studio double-album, “Warehouse Songs and Stories,” and the air itself crackled under the strain of Bob Mould’s guitar excess.
Up until this time, the loudest concert I had heard was a Led Zeppelin show in Los Angeles. Husker Du challenged that level, but in a dark little club. The feedback from Mould’s guitar work actually created harmonic overtones that blossomed within the layers of electricity. This tour would be Husker Du’s death knell. There was little joy in the performance- just loud, intense expression- and the club soaked up the ear damage like a smoky coffin. A tour booklet was full of colorful studio images of Mould, bassist Greg Norton and drummer Grant Hart, as well as stream-of-consciousness writing. The booklet also revealed that the band’s manager, David Savoy Jr., had recently died. Opening the show at Norman’s was a band called Christmas, offering their own kind of manic intensity, underscored by vocal harmonies and counterpoint.
Since getting familiar with the international hardcore scene through Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll, I began to recognize flyers and posters for local hardcore events. They were thrown on the counters at record stores, or hastily taped to telephone poles- an offense in Fort Collins. I believed what I read and heard about the hardcore movement- that those who were interested enough to show up would be accepted, no matter what they looked like. So I struck up my courage, bolstered by a friend’s urgings- knowing full well that I was consciously entering someone else’s scene- and went out to “research” the local bands.
The first local show that I attended- on May 15- was at a VFW facility, rented by some adventurous promoters called Crowbar Productions. Six bands played for four bucks, attracting a fairly healthy crowd- meaning somewhere around fifty people at any one time, maybe seventy-five at its peak, people coming and going throughout the evening depending on who was playing.
The music was refreshing in its intensity, even though the sound equipment was faulty, the lighting was just bare bones and the stage was little more than a riser. As the evening wore on, a slam pit developed in front of the stage. It was a circular formation with participants in the center moving around, bumping into each other, bouncing off the crowd that formed a wall of bodies around them. As the music got revved up, so did the slam pit, participants moving faster around the circle, now purposely pushing the person in front of them, or better yet, slamming into them. This was a full contact sport and the crowd ringing the circle would jump into the pit area when someone fell on the floor, quickly yanking them back on their feet before they could be trampled. They also would reach out and help propel the participants around the circle. When things were really cranking, people in the pit were flying around the circle, clocking each other and literally ricocheting off the crowd. Sweat flowed, faces turned red from exertion, arms and legs flew. As the evening progressed, the Mohawk hairdos started drooping from the heat.
The show included sets by Catch 23 and Jennifer Sings. The Ho Chi Men began their set with some Native American-type drumming and incantation, then disintegrated into a lot of feedback, loud crashing and a wasted version of the song “I Can See Clearly.” Western Waste followed with a set plagued by broken guitar strings, playing cowpunk originals like “I’m a Loser” and a rave up on the Munsters TV theme. During one of the string changes, a speech was made about supporting the scene rather than “commercial, prefab stuffing like Bon Jovi.” This brought cheers and shouts from the crowd. Mad Cap Laughs covered some Sly and the Family Stone material as well as a poetry rock reading. Swinging Chariots ended the night with dark, overpowering intensity supported by great drumming and rhythms. A dollar bill was ceremoniously burned on stage and the numbers on the bingo board behind the stage were lit up to spell “Help.”
After having spent so very much time skulking around music venues around the country, watching big name acts of all kinds, the punk shows were so intimate and roots-oriented that it was almost scary. It was most certainly invigorating and fulfilled the promise of punk- that music lovers could take the whole contemporary music process, from forming your own bands to throwing your own shows, to create their own entertainment, free of corporate concerns, sales charts, big record stores and crowded arenas. Hardcore had its own musical style, its own distribution system, its own rules of order and its own community. It was not exclusive as such, but very underground, flying way under radar. Probably the biggest problem hardcore had was in the scorn that they attracted from the community at large. Like at Gilman in Berkeley, the show at the VFW attracted a lot of police attention. What seemed like chaos from the outside- the harsh, thumping revved up rock, wild ripped up clothes and hair haphazardly chopped and colored- actually seemed to make sense from the inside, though I felt like only an observer.
But more just being an observer, I wanted to participate in the hardcore scene. I was not about to start a hardcore band with some teenagers or jump into a slam pit. Instead, I began publishing my own version of a zine and tried to distribute it through the hardcore network. Self-publishing was not a new concept to me. Back in my college days in Santa Barbara, friends and I published often using the local copy store or the funky used ditto machine I had in my apartment. In Fort Collins, I began making up flyers-sized publications with various names, eventually settling on the name “Expressure,” meaning “the pressure to express.”
Thanks to the zine networking pages in Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll, I began to correspond with a few zine editors scattered throughout the country, submitting poem/collages and little bits of writing as well as sending copies of my own zines. I also distributed my zines free at chosen locations in Fort Collins- including a hip restaurant, the one record store in town that carried hardcore stuff and a comic book store. I would review the hardcore shows that I attended, included poems, wrote about records and movies, decorated them with collage material and filled space with random epigraphs. One zine editor wrote back and admitted that I sounded like an “older person” and another reviewed Expressure by saying they had “never seen anything like it.” The copies I distributed in town were always gone by the time I brought a new issue around.
June 5- Mammoth Events Center. King Sunny Ade.
On occasion I would try to win radio call-in contests, but without much success. That is until I hit the right combination to win a pair of tickets to see King Sunny Ade. From Nigeria, Ade was known as the “king of ju-ju,” an African music style that featured lots of percussion with thin, fluid melody lines twisting happily around on top.
In Denver, the Mammoth Events Center was filled with sweat and happiness as Ade and his big band met a receptive crowd that willingly shook, jumped and gyrated in a communal celebration of spirit-freeing rhythm. I had been to Mammoth only a few months before- to see Big Audio Dynamite- but the crowd was much smaller for Ade, which allowed plenty of space on the wide wooden floor for dancing.
On stage, the understated African vocals were sweet and keen, and the rhythms were driving and strong. Each “song” stretched on hypnotically for twenty and thirty minutes at a time. Ade’s band, full of congas, drums, singers and a whole section of African talking drums as well as steel guitar, and, of course, Ade’s fluid lead guitar, was perfectly synchronized for these long flights of modern primal release. Instruments were featured, then pulled back while others stepped up to continue the groove.
Ade’s most recent album release that was available in America at the time was the 1987 album “Return of the Juju King.” It should be noted that while in America Ade was an exotic and unusual pleasure, in his homeland he was considered a superstar and not only recorded scores of albums and performed, but also owned his own record company, owned a nightclub and directed films.
The Latin flavor of the opening band’s music set the stage for this feast of international music, but Ade’s music turned it into something that transcended the surroundings. I joined the dancers as the night progressed, doing my own thing until the very end of the show.
I attended a handful of other hardcore shows in the coming months. One was a benefit held on the front lawn of an art facility called the Power Plant in Fort Collins. The show featured a Denver band called the Fluid and the Electric Third Rail. I could hear the music from a good mile away at my house, so I brought Kaitlin- then 3- to check out the music and play in the grass. The Electric Third Rail was funky and raspy. The Fluid was making inroads into the national hardcore scene with a sound made rich thanks to loud layers of electric guitar.
A few days later, I went to a show held out in the industrial area part of town. With shades of the Gilman Street Warehouse in Berkeley, this new hardcore venue- called the Big Creature Café- was actually in a large automotive repair facility with metal walls and a high roof. For the show, the floor area had been cleared and funky decorations were placed throughout. The Ho Chi Men opened with their intensely dark, aggressive art music. While their set included a string of incredibly mangled covers dedicated to the memory of Karen Carpenter, the group’s best music was their original stuff, like the standout tune “Hitler/Reagan- Same Thing.”
Next up at the Big Creature was Mad Cap Laughs, who came on strong and confident until a slam pit erupted and tempers flared. Mad Cap Laughs finished the set, which included a hot version of Lou Reed’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll” with a guest singer, but under visible strain over the question of exactly what dancing was. The scene at the end of the set became fiery as a spokesman for the slam dancers was shouted down before he could speak. Following was Catch 23. Mostly a drum band, members of Catch 23 were painted up and intent and allowed their music to evolve out of a single rhythm pattern while a vocalist raved and a guitar churned. Films of American tanks crashing into WWII Germany were played frontward and backward on the wall for a multi-media effect that lent a political flavor to the set.
The evening ended with Trim Lizard, an outfit who rated two go-go dancers and wild cheers from the audience. Trim Lizard was the tightest band of the night and scorched the roof of the warehouse with loud, manic energy. The Big Creature was being organized by Crowbar Productions, who planned to put on shows every two weeks.
July 2- Madison Square Garden. Paul Simon w/ Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Hugh Masekela and Miriam Mekeba.
Ever since seeing the gatefold picture of Grand Funk Railroad playing at Madison Square Garden on the album jacket for “Closer to Home,” the Garden had been a kind of mythical place in my mind. The time had finally come for me to visit.
While once again in New Jersey, I was casually paging through a copy of the New Yorker magazine and saw a listing for Paul Simon’s “Graceland” tour at the Garden. The date was soon, so I contacted a ticket outlet and was amazed that there were still tickets. I went into New York for the day to see some art and Jonie met me in Pennsylvania Station. From there, it was just a short walk to the next building. Walking into the Garden was at first an experience of wonder and awe. I could hardly believe that I was actually in Madison Square Garden. But after we took our seats and settled in, I realized that the Garden was hardly different from other venues I had been to, especially the Englewood Forum in Los Angeles. This venue, however, had New York City churning all around it- that’s what made it different.
What made this night special, however, was that it was the last night of the “Graceland” tour. It was an ambitious and rousing showcase of the hybrid international music that Simon had created with the “Graceland” album. The concert was a celebration of cultural union, mixing Simon’s slick pop song craftsmanship with a very generous helping of modern African music. The evening proceeded with a positive charm but also included reminders of the desperate social conditions that continue to exist in South Africa today, Simon creating an enormously far-reaching and entertaining forum for protest and support. This was world music at its commercial and cultural peak.
Joining Simon on stage were trumpeter Hugh Masekela and singer Miriam Makeba, both influential musicians and political exiles from South Africa, as well as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a ten member a cappella group from South Africa. While Simon included several renditions of past pop favorites such as “The Boxer,” “The Sounds of Silence,” “Mother and Child Reunion,” and “Late in the Evening,” the older material lacked the spark of the “Graceland” music.
Masekela, Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mambazo each performed sets of their own music making the evening a feast of African and African-inspired music. Despite an injury, Mekeba was brought on stage in a wheelchair, with a cast on her leg, to perform. Most memorable was the deep, haunting sound of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who both hushed and sparked up the crowd with their sweet harmonizing. Actor Chevy Chase made a brief appearance playing sax and a reverend from South Africa spoke of solidarity and thanks just before the finale, a rousing version of the black South African national anthem.
Afterwards, I couldn’t help but buy a tour program, which revealed that perhaps the reason the Garden show was not sold out was that Simon had already played four shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York earlier in the tour. The tour had also visited Belgium, France, Germany, England, Ireland, Australia and Canada as well as eleven other American cities. There had been 58 dates in all. As we rushed onto the train going back to New Jersey, the conductors handed out special new Jersey Transit tickets that simply said “Paul Simon Concert, July 2, 1987.” The extra souvenir was unnecessary. It was an unforgettable evening.
July 4- Brighton Bar. Wallbangers, Whirling Dervishes.
The Fourth of July in New Jersey was hot and sticky. My friends from California were on the East Coast at the time, so we met at my in-laws’ house for the day. A pair of us split off to check out a club in the West End area of West Long Branch. I had seen a flyer stuck to a telephone pole somewhere- punk style, with a picture of a grizzled street person asking “Who says there’s no Justice?”- so I was ready for some hardcore action. Instead, what we experienced was a rough and ready rock and roll that bordered on a kind of psychedelic excess.
The venue was the Brighton Bar, a long hole-in-the-wall beer joint with a stage near the front door. It was the kind of place you had to stand the whole time, holding your drinks. But probably if there had been seats, you wouldn’t really want to sit in them- better to keep on your feet.
One distinguishing factor, however, was that the bar had original oil paintings on the walls of some of the bands that regularly played there. Three bands were advertised on the flyer and we got there for the second band, the Wallbangers. They were one of the groups immortalized in a painting on the wall. The band played a tough, punk-singed rock and roll, covering the Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat” and the Doors’ “Soul Kitchen.” The Doors also came to mind when the “headlining” band, the Whirling Dervishes, took the stage. The band’s heavy guitar sound was full and electric, but also featured keyboards. All the while, the lead vocalist intoned over the wall of music, building to climax, then reaching down low to begin building back up again- like Jim Morrison.
Afterwards, I would visit a famous area record store- Jack’s Music in Red Bank- and pick up the Whirling Dervishes’ 1986 independent release, “Affordable World.” It was an EP with only four songs- co-written by vocalist Don Dazzo and guitarists Bob Ardrey and Dan Paola- but echoed the excessive, tough sound we heard at the Brighton Bar. The accompanying sleeve to the record took a jab at music censors and those who found hidden meaning in recordings: “If you play this record backwards it probably won’t mean anything.”
Back at the Big Creature Café in Fort Collins, the next show started late because the crowd was slow to gather. Of course, this was in the middle of summer and since it didn’t get dark until very late, it was a little harder to get immersed in the feeling of an underground movement while the bright sunlight shined. However, the flyer promised “creative music for your mind.” I arrived at the advertised start time- as I would any other concert- and then waited outside for a long time. While waiting, I was approached by a couple of the members of one of the bands and their friends. They were simply curious about what I was doing there, since I was obviously not one of them. I replied that I just liked to check out music and they thought it was cool that someone “older” would even be interested. I was 31.
This time Trim Lizard opened the show, their music snarling and lurching while trying to overcome sound problems that would plague the entire evening. They finished their set with a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”- on a borrowed guitar. The Swinging Chariots followed offering dark, driving, heavy rolling music that inspired a pit takeover that practically filled half the facility. Voodoo Vision was up next with lumbering, minor key thundering reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Anchored by good solid drumming, Voodoo Vision’s best tune was “I Like My Women Hot,” heightened by a dose of vocal abandon, and also included a cover of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.” Western Waste finished off the night, revving up their C & W inspired songs into a tough, confident cowpunk. The equipment problems and the less than punctual crowd were the down side to going to hardcore events. That meant that when things finally did click, the bands had to be ready to rage.
July 20- Red Rocks. The Cure.
Starting out as a mope rock art band, by 1987, the Cure had fully incorporated technology into their music and stage show. I had used several Cure songs, especially from their 1986 singles collection, “Standing on a Beach,” when I DJed at parties. The best of the Cure was its mixture of vocalist Robert Smith’s quirkiness- breathy, on the edge vocals applied to psychologically confused lyrics- and an oddly infectious kind of dance music, supported by electronic beats and effects. Smith had developed the image of the tortured, but surviving soul persona and was a cult figure for new music enthusiasts in America. Like the Fey Concerts Red Rocks Concert Guide for 1987 explained, Smith’s “singing can sound charming and demented at the same time.”
The new release at the time I saw them at Red Rocks was the double-disk album “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me,” an ambitious work that included not only some lighter material, such as the hits “Why Can’t I Be You?” and “Just Like Heaven,” but also some meandering instrumental exploration that reached psychedelic proportions. At Red Rocks, the hit material was balanced by the new introspective instrumental stuff to create a dreamy, otherworldly mood. It helped that the lighting system bathed the entire amphitheater in luscious colors while the music throbbed and Smith moaned and snarled in the night.
August 12 (Wednesday)- Red Rocks. Grateful Dead.
The last time I had seen the Grateful Dead was in 1978 in Los Angeles. I had lost track of the group but was not worried- I had seen plenty of them throughout the 1970s. But like many, my interest had been rekindled when something kind of weird happened- the Grateful Dead had a radio hit. Their new song “A Touch of Gray” from the “In the Dark” album had made some mainstream headway- their first Top Ten single.
Just a year before, guitarist Jerry Garcia had lapsed into a diabetic coma, so the strength of the band’s comeback, and even the theme of the hit, carried with it a sense of triumphant survival. Garcia’s sickness had sent a shock wave through the Dead world, grimly making everyone stare mortality in the face. Fortunately Garcia recovered and everyone nervously relaxed, though there was perhaps a growing sense that this would be a good time to see the Dead, before something else happened. Added to this was media hoopla commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Summer of Love, of which the Grateful Dead had taken full part in. A neighbor Deadhead tipped me off to how to buy tickets through the mail- through the Grateful Dead’s own ticket sales department! I did it all- got the postal money order, included a 3 X 5 card with my address and phone, a return stamped envelope and sent it off- enjoying the fact that I was dealing directly with the band’s organization.
My tickets came back- with glitter sprinkled on the ink- for the second show in a three show run. Accompanying the tickets was an information sheet that hinted at the phenomenon we would soon experience. The flyer began with a special note: “We all have to remember that for us to be welcomed back in the communities we play, we need to be aware that we are traveling through places that aren’t our homes. A small group of people identified as Deadheads are doing a good job of ruining the whole process for us. We need to treat the urban jungles we pass through the way the Sierra Club suggests we leave wilderness: “leave nothing but footprints,” or we could be a very popular band that cannot find a place to play. Thank you!” The Dead were reaching out to try to tell their followers how to act. Added to these warnings directly from the Dead were articles in the local media about the hordes of Deadheads that followed the band like a tribe of American rock and roll gypsies. These weren’t just fans. They had adopted an entire lifestyle around the Grateful Dead’s music and especially the concert experience.
The info sheet that came with the tickets also spelled out area services such as campgrounds, hotels, restaurants, a hospital and AAA. At the bottom were details for a “taping section.” In my early days of going to concerts, there was a time when fans could just walk right into a concert with a tape recorder in hand- I did it several times. But those days were long gone. The Dead, however, actually accommodated it. At Red Rocks, the Dead offered a special taping section behind the sound board. The info sheet warned: “This will be the only place taping will be allowed. If you tape anywhere else you will be told to leave the concert. Tapers seats are limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis at each concert. Once the taping section is full, no more decks will be allowed inside. One audio cassette deck per person. No reel to reel. Taping is for non-commercial home use only! Un-authorized duplication, distribution or sale is forbidden! Absolutely no video equipment of any kind!!!!”
Indeed, the scene at Red Rocks was eye opening. In the nine years that I had taken off from watching the Dead, the Dead culture surrounding the band had grown significantly. In 1974, when I signed up to be on the Deadhead mailing list, that’s about all it was- receiving a mailing. People partied hardy at the shows, but I don’t remember there being as much commerce as I encountered when we pulled into the Red Rocks parking lot. It was kind of like a carnival atmosphere. There were people selling food and hawking all kinds of custom Dead stickers, like a skull with the Colorado flag filling the head. That carnival feeling was immediately reinforced by the sudden appearance of a guy who called himself “Rocky the Leprechaun.” Rocky had pointed ears and a green suit and he dramatically performed a poem he had written titled “Rainbows,” one which declared that “its not the pot of gold I seek,/for I find that’s in the soul.” He bowed deeply and then asked for money for his performance. Our reward was a copy of the poem- then he disappeared.
As we approached the long ramp upward to the amphitheater entrance, we walked through a veritable marketplace of activity. Dead music poured out of cars, steam rose from hot woks and plates of eggrolls and other food circulated in an attempt to scare up some more spare change. Cool tie-dye stuff, pipes and pictures were available. The sales people were pleasant but aggressive with their eye on the prize- taking advantage of their fellow Deadheads in whatever small way they could to better their own situation- maybe with a free ticket, drugs or money.
In the concert venue itself, the feeling was also upbeat and active. As expected, there was a lot of tie-dyed fashion in the crowd- I had mine on. As I was watching the first set unfold, I noticed that I had no idea who the keyboard player was. When I said I had been out of touch with the Dead, I meant it. Still, I was impressed with the performance of keyboardist Brent Mydland, who added a full flourish of sound underneath each arrangement as well as some hearty vocals.
At some point during the show, I had to climb the long staircase up to the restrooms. As I climbed higher, I passed more and more people dancing happily by themselves. When I reached the top, I was met by the strange sight of dozens of these solo dancers moving silently and dramatically in their own little worlds. A few lights helped set the visual mood of some weird, scruffy, hairy fairyland. It seemed that magic at a Grateful Dead concert was in the eye of the beholder. I would even witness some of that “magic” myself. At the last note of the concert, a huge, orange moon broke on Denver’s horizon in a moment of amazing cosmic coincidence. It’s unlikely that the moment was planned, but by this time, after being taken back into the Grateful Dead’s own unique universe, I could have believed that it was possible.
Several years after the event at Red Rocks, I would come into contact with the incredible network of Grateful Dead tape-trading. Evidently, all those tapers that the Dead was allowing to plug in behind the sound board were freely distributing tapes, trading them and collecting them. It didn’t seem to be a commercial kind of movement as much as a fan based one. Fans just wanted to share the stuff they had with others of like minds.
I became involved through the son of an acquaintance. He had fully tuned into the Grateful Dead and when I asked him if he could find tapes of the Red Rocks show I had seen, he actually was able to produce- two ninety minute cassettes that contained both sets from the Red Rocks show. Accompanying the tapes were homemade tape cards featuring Garcia’s picture on one and bassist Phil Lesh’s on the other. The song list was filled in with handwriting. Set one included “Hell in a Bucket,” “Sugaree,” “Never Trust a Woman,” “Cumberland Blues,” “Mexicali Blues,” “Friend of the Devil,” “Birdsong” and “The Music Never Stopped.” Set two included “China Cat Sunflower,” “I Know You Rider,” “Women Are Smarter,” “Terrapin Station,” “Drumz,” “Space,” “The Other One,” “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” “Warf Rat,” “Lovelight” and an encore version of “Mighty Quinn.”
These tapes were certainly raw- perhaps from the initial recordings or maybe from having been duplicated over countless generations. But the sound quality aside, the recordings are not always kind to the performers. For example, the first tune “Hell in a Bucket” features a snappy arrangement, but Bob Weir’s lead vocals significantly crap out during the finale to the tune. The Dead, however, wasn’t known much for its vocals. Fortunately, Garcia’s guitar work is fully powerful and confident and the rest of the band is just as energetic.
Garcia’s guitar reaches for the top of Red Rocks as early as the second tune, “Sugaree.” Mydland then steps up for “Never Trust a Woman,” an organ and vocal blues workout. Garcia returns by attacking “Cumberland Blues” with a nimble dexterity befitting its bluegrass nature. The tune naturally segues into “Mexicali Blues” which allows for some country-styled licks. “Friend of the Devil” is arranged here as a medium tempo ballad and provides a much-needed break after the fast pace of the preceding tunes. It is not until “Birdsong” that the Dead finally take off on a exploratory musical excursion. It produced that sublime feeling of freely taking off into the air, mentally and spiritually. By this time the sound was significantly better on the recording and the final song of the first set, “The Music Never Stopped” is stoked up and energetic. You can hear the crowd reacting to Weir’s vocals and lyrics encouraging everybody to dance. Garcia revs it up and torches the ending with hot licks.
Set 2 starts off with an energetic, purposeful version of “China Cat Sunflower.” Though an old Dead warhorse, the tune retained those great power surges in between verses and launched into a good rolling groove. Of course, the song easily segues into “I Know You Rider” which I realized had new significance because of the reference in the lyrics to “Colorado rain.” As Garcia delivers the lines about wishing he was “a headlight on a northbound train,” the crowd is heard gearing up with cheers to greet the Colorado reference, which in turn produces a big emotional reaction. During the a cappella break at the end, the crowd is vigorously clapping right along. “Women Are Smarter” provides a goodtime change of pace and Mydland shines on organ, with his vocals riding high on top.
It’s clear by “Terrapin Station” that the band is well synched in and while meandering around the various shifts and changes in “Terrapin,” they end up reaching a powerful grandeur. Then things disintegrate into a section of drum work featuring two guys- Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann- going nuts on various acoustic and electronic drums, adding crashing and sound layers that went beyond just percussion. It became a rousing cacophony before the guitars start noodling around, signifying a few minutes worth of exploratory space music. The show maintains pace as the noodling becomes the quick rolling riff that becomes “The Other One.” With this tune, the Dead enter a very well explored territory- especially compared to the space music- and ironically, the familiarity seems to set them free to confidently jam the daylights out of the groove.
Mydland is featured again on a version of Traffic’s song “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” who turns it into a dramatic, soulful rock anthem. “Warf Rat” then settles back into a lower groove and Garcia tells the woes of a character framed for “…some other fucker’s crime.” Again the group reaches a level of grandeur before finally breaking the music out into a full boogie version of “Lovelight.” It was a revival indeed as Weir’s hoarse and scratchy vocals are met by cheers from the crowd. The encore for the evening was a feel good sing-along version of Bob Dylan’s “Mighty Quinn.” (The Dead would also tour with Bob Dylan in 1987.) The rootsy quality of the music was enhanced by Mydland’s soulful vocals on top of it all. In all, it had been a triumphant show and proved that the Dead were far from done making music.
August 15- Lincoln Center. Suzanne Vega.
I had only heard a few tracks of Suzanne Vega’s music on the radio when I took note that tickets were going on sale for an upcoming show at the Lincoln Center. Said to be a graduate of the fertile and creative East Coast acoustic-based scene, Vega played a souped up, shining version of singer-songwriter material, much like Bruce Cockburn. Vega’s music was based around her breathy, intimate vocal style- almost monotone in nature- to which she added the gloss and dynamic ranges of electric and electronic instruments. It also appealed to the adult intellect. When I heard a DJ on the radio remind listeners that tickets were going on sale that day for the upcoming show, I stopped by and stood in line. This would be one of the finest shows I would see at the Lincoln Center.
Vega had recently hit big with a single titled “Luka,” a song about being a bystander in the life of a child being abused. But her reputation had already been established for her finely crafted songs, recorded with studio flair and polish. Her 1985 self titled album, for example, included the fine “Marlene on the Wall.”
On stage, her stylish music was enhanced by her stylish stage manner. In a cool, calm way, she would briefly talk about the songs they were performing, displaying a kind of humility balanced by a poignant wit. Favorites tunes that night included the harrowing “In the Eye,” from her 1987 release “Solitude Standing.” The song, Vega explained, came from a ride on the New York City subway in which she wondered how she would react if she were confronted by a stranger. The performance exhibited Vega’s answer- a kind of fragile defiance.
Another highlight of the show was “Small Blue Thing” from the “Suzanne Vega” album. The Lincoln Center performance hall was decked out with full lighting rigs and whoever was on the job that night matched Vega’s moods perfectly. “Small Blue Thing” not only proved to be hypnotic music, but the deep blue lighting bathing the stage was soothing and luscious. A lot of the instrumental stylings- also perfectly suited to Vega’s songs- came from guitarist Marc Shulman, a versatile player taking full advantage of crisp, clear sound to create appropriate soundscapes for the words. Vega’s performance was a big breath of clean, fresh air.
August 27- Lincoln Center Mini Theatre. Touch Monkeys, Neville Brothers.
The return of the Neville Brothers to Fort Collins was a welcome event. The show the group had played at the tiny Safari club in 1986 still reverberated as a top-notch experience. This time, however, the Nevilles were booked into the Lincoln Center. At first, the show was scheduled for the big performance hall, but sluggish ticket sales moved the concert to the Mini Theatre, which held about 250 people.
This would seem to be another great opportunity to get intimate with the band, but the Mini Theatre was no nightclub. This was underscored by the opening set by a local act named the Touch Monkeys. Many music lovers in Fort Collins had danced to the world stew the Touch Monkeys pumped out in any of the various clubs throughout town. Therefore, it was strange to see the band on stage for a formal concert. It was also strange to see the Nevilles in a formal environment too, wanting to dance like at the Safari, but finding ourselves in neat lines, no smoke in the air, no drinks on a table- just seats, an aisle and the stage.
Nonetheless, the Nevilles performed and my clearest memory is of the superb guitar work by Bryon Stoltz. Every time he flew into a solo, he seemed to nail it with quick, deft motion and a sometimes raunchy tone. The latest Neville Brothers release at the time was the 1987 release of “Uptown,” which included “Midnight Key.”
October 14- Lory Student Center Ballroom. Dants, Untouchables.
Spin magazine and MTV presented the cool LA ska band the Untouchables in the student center ballroom on the Colorado State University campus as part of a “College Tour” program. A precursor to reggae music, ska maintained the same kind of boom-chuck rhythm as reggae, but at a quicker pace. This was dance music meant to support peppy lyrics. Ska had gone through several permutations since the first days in Jamaica. That included the rise of a kind of ska that was branded “2-tone” music- ska played by interracial groups- like the English Beat and the Specials in England- with socially conscious lyrics standing right beside party tunes.
The Untouchables were the American West Coast version of 2-tone. They turned out to be a first rate show band mixing driving soul, rock, ska and reggae with energetic stage antics. The Untouchables were less political and more interested in putting on a good show. The music was made for dancing and was delivered with an aggressive but also upbeat attitude. It was significant that the show even happened on campus because concerts were actually few and far between- not like my experience in Santa Barbara, when concerts of all types happened frequently. The CSU ballroom was, however, a great place to dance to the Untouchables- a wide open wood floor. Afterwards I bought some Untouchables stickers- some wild guys in suits and hats, kicking up their heels and wanging on a guitar.
November 6- Lincoln Center. Dave Alvin, Los Lobos.
Hot on the heels of their successful participation in the movie “La Bamba”- they contributed the music and even appeared briefly in a scene- Los Lobos continued to deepen the mix they were making of rock and roll and traditional Hispanic styles. In Fort Collins, the audience was significantly made up of members of the local Hispanic community and the anticipation seemed to be running high for these new cultural heroes. The audience finally exploded at the first strains of the Ritchie Valens tune “La Bamba”- something everybody knew. Particularly outstanding on this night was guitarist Cesar Rosas, whose electric playing sizzled. Los Lobos had also released an album of their own work, “By the Light of the Moon,” in 1987.
Opening the show at the Lincoln Center was Dave Alvin, who had gone solo after founding the Blasters with his brother Phil. Alvin’s music was flavored by roots rock and roll, raw and gut level. The vocals were rough- Alvin nearly shouted- and the guitars were loud and raunchy, perhaps a little too rough for an audience that had come to see Los Lobos. Nonetheless, Alvin and band, called the All-Nighters, persevered, looking like rock and roll skeletons hunched into the wind, yelling their heads off and playing searing guitar.
Like many other towns, Fort Collins had its share of local hero musicians and these weren’t the punks. Instead, these were the bands that played in the bars and clubs and kept the people dancing. Just as I supported the punks by attending shows, I would occasionally get out to see a bar band. That included several evenings with the Touch Monkeys, who had recently opened for the Neville Brothers at the Lincoln Center Mini Theatre. On the occasion of an environmental benefit event, the Touch Monkeys joined forces with a drum-based Fort Collins band named Jambo at Fort Ram, the huge college bar. Jambo made dance music from long rhythmic grooves.
Since moving to Fort Collins in 1980, the downtown area was undergoing extensive renovations, which included the building of Old Town Square- a stage area and a fountain built right into the middle of the street in front of what used to be Sam’s Old Town Ballroom. The rest of the block became a pedestrian mall. The Old Town stage, then, became a popular place for bands to play, including a Grateful Dead styled jam band called Common Ground. As Old Town developed, the bars in the area were changing. What used to be a place called the Red Garter- a raucous biker bar when I first moved to town- was now the more genteel Von Donners, who were then trying to promote itself as a music venue. On one occasion I would go to Von Donner’s to check out a band called the Dants, a new music type progressive rock band I had seen open for the Untouchables at CSU.
One bar in the Old Town development zone that did not change its character even after the Old Town development had swallowed up everything around them was an establishment called Friends. On the recommendation of a friend, I dropped by Friends to get acquainted with a band called the Jukebox Naturals. The group cranked out a raw mix of rock and roll and blues, all with a kind of restrained style. I was one of about five people in the place and the band simply became their namesake- they played over in the corner like a jukebox. As it turned out, the Jukebox Naturals would become friends with some New Orleans musicians and at their urgings moved south. In New Orleans, the Jukebox Naturals became the Iguanas, who eventually became a featured recording act on Jimmy Buffet’s own label. Friends would be closed soon after to make room for a restaurant/brew pub.
One of the oddest things I did while making an effort to check out the hardcore scene was that while in Albuquerque, New Mexico for a retail show for my ceramic business, I spied a flyer for a group I had read about in Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll- Doggy Style. So I sought out the small recreation center where the show was being held.
It was odd, because I was such a strange type of character to show up. In Fort Collins, the punks at least tolerated me, if not outright recognized me. But in Albuquerque, I was completely unknown. God knows what the kids at the recreation center thought of this strange older guy showing up at their show. They didn’t ask and they also didn’t bother to tell me that the band Doggy Style was not playing after all.
Instead, I got a taste of raw Albuquerque hardcore. This included a band called Vulgar Issue that writhed painfully in a convoluted attempt to play cohesive songs. A weird character called Boxcar Johnny then took the mike and played a nervous, country-flavored acoustic music, twisted and strange. The final act of the night was a combination of two bands, Boxer Rebellion and Pepsi Generation. The set changes were excruciatingly long, the bands were raw and inexperienced and this was one night where I paid dearly for my research.
December 5- Ramskellar. Game Theory.
A photo in one of the local papers tipped me off to a show by northern California progressive rock band Game Theory in the CSU student center. The show was being held in the Ramskellar, a big basement room with thick pillars, a low ceiling and a stage at one end. Not much of a crowd showed up, but Game Theory’s music was an engaging mix of instrumental excursions and powerful vocal work. A quintet, Game Theory featured guitarist and songwriter Scott Miller, and two female musicians, offering plenty of musical diversity.
At the end of the year, I took it on myself to sum up my concert experiences of 1987 in my own zine-style publication and distributed it to friends and in the usual places. Other than making lists and publishing a few scattered concert reviews, I had not yet tried to write about my concert experiences from a broad perspective. One friend who I sent it to responded by asking me, “Did you really go to all of those concerts?” I replied, “Of course.”