And now for something completely different…

I enjoy what I do and I enjoy talking about it in this space, but once in a while it is fun to talk about something unrelated.

Today I want to write about my musical and live performance experiences over the past several months. Most years, I will see a concert or 2. Over the past several months, I have been really lucky to have seen a great collection of live music and a little live comedy.

It started when I was in Boston at an the Aesthetic Surgery meeting. I have a classmate who invited me to see an outrageous comedienne, Chelsea Handler. My friend had gotten a last minute ticket for me, which turned out to be front row center. It had been since college when I saw Steve Goodman from the second row in Jesse Hall.

So… the year progressed. I saw the amazing Randy Newman, 67 and one of the most versatile, often cynical, song writers I listen to, at the Sheldon. We had to leave partway through to be with a friend who had an acute health situation. Mr. Newman said, in classic style: “you can leave, but you can’t get your money back”.

Also at the Sheldon I saw a great bluegrass artist with his band, Sam Bush. I had not heard him before, but he has been on many other musician’s albums. His band was very versatile. He also wore a Cardinals shirt during the concert that said “Go Crazy, Folks” on the front and featured Ozzie on the back. The concert was taking place during the playoffs for the wild card slot and he stopped playing the regular set to do “Take me out to the Ballgame” and “Hey Ozzie”. He plays mandolin and at the end of the show pulled out an electric mandolin and did some major rock n’ roll. Great show.

There is a family in Clayton that hosts shows at their home. A friend told me about it and I was lucky enough to get tickets to see John McEuen from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, again partly bluegrass but great storytelling and music in a very intimate setting. Later, in the same place, I saw Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, the former an original member of the Byrds from the late 60’s. Chris Hillman plays mandolin also, and had great vocal harmony with Pedersen. The do a lot of traditional music and gospel. We sat in the second row, in the living room.

In St. Charles we saw a blues show with Jimmy Vaughan, Jonny Lang and Buddy Guy, the latter now 75 and a great, steamy showman. We also saw Chris Isaak in the same venue do a slick show.

The Pageant brought Lucinda Williams, who fascinates me with her lyrics and style and her really good band, especially her guitarist. We also saw Chickenfoot, a true supergroup with Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani (a guitarist with pyrotechnical technique), Michael Anthony, also from Van Halen and Chad Smith, who is the drummer from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Seeing/hearing a major group in a small venue is delectable.

As if that were not enough, and it is, a very good friend invited me to the newly refurbished Peabody Opera House to see Roger Daltry of The Who. The musicians he brought were superb and played Tommy note for note from start to finish, with great skill and energy. He said that he is doing songs he has not done for years because he now has people who can handle the harmonies. He did several Who songs and even some Johnny Cash tunes “to loosen up his vocal cords”. at the recommendation of his voice doctor. My friend had 2nd row seats in the orchestra pit right in front of the guitar player. Spectacular.

There it is. I missed a few, like Paul Simon and John Prine that I would have liked to see, but it has been a great year. If next year is half that good, I will be happy.