When I wrote last week about my favorite rock (and jazz) shows from The Beatles to The Bluebirds, I left out dozens, of course. I caught the most dramatic ones, but I missed quite a few. Here is the next batch. I'll probably put up another one in a week or so, as more cobwebs fall away. . .
First, three musical events that weren't actually shows...
Steve Griggs, Milo Petersen, Elvin Jones,
Jay Thomas, and Phil Sparks. Photo by Kate Kulzer.
Elvin Jones/the Steve Griggs Quintet) recording session, May, 1998, the suburban boondocks of Seattle.
Elvin Jones came to Seattle to record an album with four Seattle players: bandleader saxophonist Steve Griggs, bassist Phil Sparks, Jay Thomas on trumpet, and guitarist (and often, drummer) Milo Petersen. They recorded out at Bear Creek for two or three days. Milo, a friend since childhood, got me to skip work and come out to the sessions. I spent about five hours there, enthralled with watching this jazz great play. It was really something special. I think for everyone in the studio it was a Big Moment. This guy who played on Coltrane's greatest albums was so generous to these guys, and seemed to dig their music, and playing. Bear Creek was a fantastic, cozy, beautiful old studio, kind of out in the woods, north of Bothell, Wash. They have a beautiful old analog console. Two CDs came out of these sessions: Jones for Elvin, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. You can get them on Amazon. Click here for a good article on this recording session. After the session, I got to eat dinner with the band and talk to Elvin. He gave me a hug when I left.
Gilda Radner album recording session. New York City, 1981. Our friend Cheryl was the music director, so we got to be part of the studio audience. We got to meet everyone (like Jane Curtin and Gilda). I can't remember who else was there or who the session players were. Bill Murray was our warm up. Before Gilda Radner would perform (and record) another song, Bill would come out to fluff us up for the performance. He was funny, and friendly. . .as he was every time I met him (two or three times, when I was with Cheryl. She also introduced us to all sorts of people, like the entire Saturday Night Live cast, Maxine Andrews, various cabaret figures, Bob Cranshaw, Lorna Luft, Divine, Buck Henry, Howard Shore, Lorne Michaels, and many more I am forgetting). Keelin was carrying a paper bag for some reason, and Bill Murray made a joke that she had stocked up on the buffet table.
Allen Ginsberg playing harmonium and chanting William Blake songs. WWU, Bellingham, Wash. 1976. Another meeting with a hero. He came to our classroom (a senior level poetry class) and for an hour or so sang and played harmonium to the Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake. He had appeared in all the books I had read by Kerouac, was a friend and lover of Neal Cassady, knew Kesey, helped William Burroughs assemble his Naked Lunch manuscript, and written some great poetry. This was an inspiring moment. I would meet him one more time. . .in New York City, at the Grassroots Bar on St. Mark's Place. Jerry Melin hailed him, and he came and talked to us, and gave Jerry a big kiss on the forehead. I have a tape somewhere of Jerry relating this story. . .
Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks, Seattle, Mid-70's and 2002 - I saw him twice. Once in the 70's (at Seward Park, with some local Seattle bands on the bill), and on August 31, 2002, at The Bumbershoot Festival. I love the old timey music, the violin, the chorus of women. Jerry Melin was the biggest fan I ever knew, and the last time I ever saw him, he played an obscure CD by them he had ordered from England...I'm An Old Cowhand, I Scare Myself, and Walking One And Only are some of my favorite songs. In the show at Bumbershoot, he was still the sly showman.
Lou Reed, Memorial Stadium Seattle, Aug. 31, 2002. I was a big fan of Velvet Underground music, and a lot of Reed's . But this concert blew. It was a huge disappointment. The best part was when he read some poetry (the part that really put the rest of the audience off). Sometimes a legend just isn't so legendary...let sleeping dogs lie, and all those cliches. . .
George Harrison (with Billy Preston, Jim Keltner, Tom Scott and others), Seattle. Nov. 4, 1974. This was the tour around his Dark Horse album. Georges voice was famously hoarse on this album, and on this tour. But it was good to see him.
Ravi Shankar, Seattle, 1974. (Opened for his student George Harrison on the Dark Horse tour). Sitar and Tablas. . .good stuff.
Sky Cries Mary
John Wesley Harding
The Crash Test Dummies
Puyallup Fair, September 1995. What a great lineup! All except for the headliners, The Crash Test Dummies. Sky Cries Mary (now defunct) was great. The Posies got into playing some hair rock. This was Brian Young's first show as the The Posies new drummer. Eventually he left, of course, and became the drummer for Fountains of Wayne.
John Hammond - Bumbershoot, the 90's. Mellow, cool, blues guy.
The Roches, Bumbershoot, Seattle, 1995. I liked their humor and easy harmonies.
The Roches (With Brian Eno), New York City, 1980. We saw them, I believe, at The Bottom Line. This was pretty early in their career, and they were great. Doubly cool was Brian Eno, who sat in and played guitar for part of the show. It was great just to see him in person in a small club...
The Fastbacks. I've seen them several times. They are about the oldest Seattle band (I think 20 years together or something like that). Kim Warnick was married for a time to Ken Stringfellow of The Posies.
The Buddy and Julie Miller Band
Buddy and Julie Miller. Bumbershoot, Seattle, September 1, 2002. One of my favorite new (or "alt") country bands. Buddy is a phenomenal guitar player (and Emmylou Harris's guitar player) and writer, and Julie has a terrific voice and stage presence. I didn't go to their show that night at The Tractor which sounded like a lot of fun. They don't come on tour often enough!
Delbert McLinton. A Woodland Park Zoo show, Seattle, August 13, 2002. This was a snoozer show, made better only by The Buddy Miller Band that opened for him. Unfortunately Julie was not there.
Bela Fleck - Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle. 2003. Great show, lots of standout performances by the band. Bela, as always, was a pleasure.
Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Big Band, New York City, about 1980. The legendary big band played every Monday night at a club in the Village. We got to see them in some of their last years. I would get to see Thad's brother Elvin play twenty years later in the recording session mentioned above...
Ornette Coleman - Two times, in about 1978, at a loft around Cooper Square, NYC. Crazy stuff.
Carla Bley Big Band. Public Theatre. NYC, 1980. A hilarious show. It was so refreshing to see jazz with a little humor thrown in. . .jazz folks just take themselves a little too seriously.
Al Green -At the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, CA, mid-1980's. How could this not be great? He is one of the most innovative and moving R & B performers ever.
Mudhoney - at pain in the grass concert at the Horiuchi mural, Seattle, ('97). Legendary Seattle band. Nice show.
Presidents of The United States (2 times) , at Pain In The Grass, Seattle, early 2000s. This was at their peak. They played tuneful knucklehead/frat boy rock on a bassitar and a guitbass...instruments with two or three strings each.
Widespread Panic. Twice at Paramount Northwest. 1999 and election night, 2000. I liked their jams, and the guitar player who sat totally immobile, never moving an inch or looking up, hunched over the guitar with his hair in his eyes. He died a few years later, very young. They were a great jam band, with the same affliction many jam bands (like Phish) have: the singer can't sing. Jerry Garcia was like Pavarotti compared to most of these guys.
Andy Narrell. Steel drum player at The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, about 1985. Even if his music appeared on Windham Hill, it was good. In later years his music has become more ethnic, incorporating more calypso and African elements.
Pat Metheny. Paramount Northwest, Seattle, about 1995. This was fun. I had been skeptical. He is a serious player. Like the Andy Narrell show, I went to this one with my friend from San Francisco David Grosten.
Eartha Kitt, 2003. Jazz Alley, Seattle. An inspiration, and like many people, I admired her for the way she stood up to LBJ at the White House (I wrote about that earlier here, with a great picture of LBJ staring her down... My friend Milo Petersen usually plays drums for her during her annual week in Seattle, at Jazz Alley. She's still a tease and has a sly, cabaret sort of sense of humor.
Stanley Turrentine. 1999. Jazz Alley, Seattle. An awful show. He was milking it.
Bob Weir, with Ratdog, at Bumbershoot, 2002. Like most Dead spinoffs, I liked seeing them but it never moved me in the way the real Grateful Dead did (and still do). Not even close.
The Other Ones. The Gorge, George, Washington. 200? See the comment above under Bob Weir.
The Dead (Grateful Dead minus Jerry Garcia with Joan Osborne, Jimmy Herring, Rob Barraco. The Gorge, George Washington, September 21, 2003. See the comment above under Bob Weir. Except this: Joan Osborne rocked! If they could have really incorporated her, they would have really had something. She was flirtatious, danced, and had fun, and of course, her voice is amazing.
Wynton Marsalis - I saw, him as mentioned previously, with Dizzy Gillespie. His brother Branford is much more to my liking, but Wynton is extremely talented.
The Minus Five Seattle, saw them twice around 2000. (Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, Scott McCaughey of Young Fresh Fellows, Peter Buck of REM, and various others).
Young Fresh Fellows - 1996?, Seattle Center, Horiuchi Mural. Longtime Seattle band. I like them but admit to never having bought a CD...
Paul Revere and The Raiders - I saw them once in their prime at a "Teen Fair," and once in about 2000, as a dreadful nostalgia act.
Son Volt - Bumbershoot 2005. Shoegazing alt-country...sort of. I thought their reputation was better than their performance.
Mavis Staples - Bumbershoot, Seattle, 2005. A fun show. You could tell how important it was to her to preserve the memory of the Staples, and Pop Staples in particular.
Etta James - I have seen her twice at Bumbershoot, both times in the mid-90's.
Maria Manville - A very odd cabaret singer in NYC. She was like a pet project of our friends Cheryl and Pinky.
Oscar Peterson - I was lucky enough to see in around 1983. Unfortunately, I remember little of the piano legend's show. . .well, I'm pretty sure he played piano...
Emily Remmler - Great guitar player. We saw her at a Jazz festival a year or so before her death (a heroin OD, I think). Sometime in the 80's.
George Cables - I can't remember much about his show either. He is an L.A.-based pianist.
Supersax - An ensemble of sax players that played only Bird songs. It was a strange sound, but I liked it a lot...We saw them at the Port Townsend Jazz Festival
Ray Brown - Legendary bass player. This was late in his career, but he could swing.
Taj Mahal - I saw him once at a rock festival, and once at Jazz Alley in about 2001.