Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Musical Memory

I wrote the article below describing a very eventful day on the concert scene - I enjoyed reading it so much I thought it would be fun to post since it's older than the blog.

My Musical Day – Sunday, August 15th, 1999 by Christopher Daniele

About 11:30am I headed out to The Indian Ranch in Webster, MA., a campground where they happen to host outdoor concerts. The headliner today was country star Jo Dee Messina. Jo Dee has begun her “breakout” this past year with the release of her second CD, several top 5 singles, and an all around buzz in country music and radio. What made this concert extra special is that Jo Dee was born and raised in Holliston, MA – so she was playing to a “hometown” crowd. (For my definition of energy, see a recently successful performer entertain in front of a hometown crowd.) Incidentally, I arrived without a ticket and wound up close enough to the stage that if I stretched, poor Jo Dee would go home with a headache. This is the kind of wonderful luck the Good Lord has gifted me with as far as country music events.

Aside from treating us to her own wonderful music, there were several surprising (to me) cover tunes including selections by Paul Simon (Late in the Evening), John Hiatt/Bonnie Raitt (Thing Called Love), and a rousing rendition of Turn the Beat Around (made famous originally by Vicky Sue Robinson, later reprieved to fame by Gloria Estefan) where Jo Dee took to the percussion. Oh, did I mention she played sax? This young lady is talented, spiritual and sincere. The whole time I felt like I was at a backyard family barbecue with a bunch of old friends and neighbors. We (the audience) even took time out to sing happy birthday to Jo Dee in the middle of the show. Whoever said you can’t go back home probably never really tried.

Warming up the crowd for Messina were a group of locals named “Sugar Creek.” They played mostly cover tunes, but I must say, they knew how to work the crowd. I look forward to the opportunity to catch these guys in a more intimate setting, say, a local pub…

After leaving the Indian Ranch around 4:45pm, I thought to my self – “Self, I’m pretty jazzed up right now. Perhaps I’ll go to yet another concert today. It is still early.” And off I drove to the BankBoston Pavilion on the Boston waterfront (not before stopping home to switch from shorts to jeans and put some socks on).

The show at the Pavilion tonight was Dwight Yoakam with special guest Deana Carter. My first stroke of luck here was getting a parking spot that I didn’t have to pay for. The show is scheduled to start at 7:30pm and I arrive ticketless at the box office at 6:45ish. I look up, requesting yet another stroke of luck, then ask the ticket booth guy if there are any available seats. Before an answer could arrive, a gentleman standing nearby makes mention of a ticket he was stuck with as a result of being stood up (his loss, my gain). I offered face value, (he accepted) and to my surprise upon arriving at my seat (after a tet’a’tet with a concessionaire) I was in the fifth row, center stage. Officially, this is the best seat I have ever sat in for a concert…what a country!

The gentleman who sold me the ticket was so unusually impressed by my days events, traveling “all the way” from Indian Ranch to see Dwight, that he offered to buy me a drink (being that I don’t drink, I gratefully declined). There was some local celebrity directly in front of me named Fred, people kept bugging him for autographs. I did not recognize him but my guess is that he was an athlete; he was quite muscular (so much for stereotypes). Also, Carolyn Kruse from local country station WKLB was several rows behind (you read correctly, behind) me (she happens to be a really nice person and strikingly attractive).

The barefoot contessa (I just made that up-I’ve never seen her in shoes), Deana Carter opened the show with a 50 minute set that got the crowd primed with a well programmed sequence of hits and new music. Deana is not only a talented singer, she is quite gifted as a musician and songwriter as well. The crowd was privy to all of her talents in what was an entertaining performance (albeit barefoot).

9:00 P.M. – time for Dwight.

Dwight came out to an amazing crowd reaction. By this time, the 5,000 seat amphitheater had filled to capacity and was ready to party. A lot of hits have accumulated in Dwight’s 15 year recording career and just about all of them were played by one of the tightest touring bands around. Interspersed amongst the hits were some obscure songs that had personal relevance (to Dwight) and were welcomed by the crowd. The balance in the set was masterful as Dwight switched genres from country to rock, to swing – ballads to up tempo, and never did the audience skip a beat. Closing the first set was a version of the Queen classic, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” 5,000 fans (technically, short for fanatic-in this case very evidently true) dancing around like tomorrow may never come, but today made it worthwhile…it was surely a sight to see and a moment I won’t soon forget.

The first encore was a 20 minute acoustic set featuring Dwight, a guitar, and an audience held tightly at the edge of their seat. It was one of those jaw-dropping moments that you describe physically. Again, in Dwight we have not only a performer, but a songwriter and a musician whose talents are remarkably honed.

Just as my jaw had reached the ground, the rest of the band returned to retrieve the crowd from their seats and send them home with music in their souls, a dance in their hearts, and a memory for the millennium.

I arrived home somewhere in the neighborhood of 11:30pm. The quiet forced me to reflect on the days events and the magical, musical journey I had traveled. Perhaps we all have a song in our hearts, sometimes, some of us are lucky enough to hear it.

Good Night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!

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