Sunday, December 30, 2007

Project Ticket Stub - 1980

1980. Chrylser gets its money (errr, our money). Cronkite retires. The "Miracle On Ice" at the Olympics. Khomeini and the hostage crisis sink Carter; Reagan wins. CNN is born. Richard Pryor plays with fire. Solidarity in Poland. And my generation was completely and utterly shocked by the death of John Lennon; to this day I can remember exactly where I was when I heard the news, and my immediate reaction was to play the Plastic Ono Band album.

Being a poor college student, I didn't see a whole heck of a lot of shows in 1980, but there's no arguing with those that I did see...

The Who, April 28, 1980 The Who
The Checkerdome, St. Louis, MO
April 28, 1980

Of all the shows that I cannot remember, this one bothers me the most. How the heck can I have absolutely no memory of seeing The Who? None. Nothing. Absolutely nothing! I mean, come on, no memory of Roger Daltrey or Pete Townshend at all? Sigh, wasted youth. (Literally, I imagine.)

On the positive side, ticket prices were still pretty sweet - just eleven bucks.

Grateful Dead, May 12, 1980 Grateful Dead
Boston Garden, Boston, MA
May 12, 1980

Now this concert I remember! As I recall it, school in St. Louis wasn't quite out yet, and on Saturday a couple of friends (Howard and Fletcher?) asked me if I wanted to see the Dead on Monday - in Boston! Heck yea!

So the three of us set off on Sunday morning in my 1970 Chevy Impala. I remember we drove to Boston via Brooklyn, NY, which is where Howard was from. I distinctly remember having breakfast at Howard's mom's house in Brooklyn before driving to Boston. We might have spent Sunday night in Brooklyn. And I remember we drove back to Brooklyn again before heading west to St. Louis. I remember we picked up a girl hitchhiking somewhere along the way, and she had us drop her off in a scary part of NYC in the wee hours of the morning; we were all worried about her, but she was a whole lot tougher and braver than the three of us college boys.

I figure we must have driven about 2,500 miles round trip to see this one concert.

As for the concert itself, I remember a great He's Gone > Drumz as my highlight. And yet another U.S. Blues encore -- that makes it four U.S. Blues encores out of my first five Dead shows.

Yes, September 25, 1980 Yes
The Checkerdome, St. Louis, MO
September 25, 1980

My third Yes show. Too bad I really don't remember much about any of them. I have some hazy memory of them playing "in the round" - they played on a slowly rotating circular stage. But I don't remember if that was at all three of the concerts I saw, or just one or two of them.

Bruce Springsteen, October 17, 1980 Bruce Springsteen
Kiel Opera House, St. Louis, MO
October 17, 1980

Oh for crying out loud, you'd think I would remember something about this show, wouldn't you?

Jethro Tull, October 26, 1980 Jethro Tull
The Checkerdome, St. Louis, MO
October 26, 1980

This will turn out to be my last Tull show for a long time. Sometime in the late 90s or thereabouts I saw a nostalgia Tull tour at Club Casino in Hampton, NH. But it will be a long time until I get to that ticket stub.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Project Ticket Stub - 1979

1979. Sid Vicious. Pol Pot. The Shah of Iran and Ayatollah Khomeini. C-SPAN is born. A swamp rabbit attacks Jimmy Carter. Margaret Thatcher is elected, and Muhammad Ali retires. (No, those two events are no related.) Saddam Hussein gains power in Iraq, and Diana Nyad swims from the Bahamas to Florida. (Those two events aren't related either.) Chrysler needs money. Pac-Man. Eleven people are killed in a stampede at a Who concert in Cincinnati. The Clash releases London Calling.

And my year was bookended by the Grateful Dead...

Grateful Dead, January 12, 1979 Grateful Dead
The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
January 12, 1979

This night sure did alter the course of my life, or at least how I spent a bunch of time in the next decade. Sure, I was familiar with the Dead before the show, particularly the Europe '72 album. But in terms of a concert experience, this was something completely different and unlike anything I had experienced to this point. Maybe Zeppelin could be compared, but an awful lot of my first concert experiences had been "shows", but this was music. I was hooked.

If I remember right, I went to this concert with Mark, Scott, and my brother, Bob.

Grateful Dead, February 11, 1979 Grateful Dead
Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MO
February 11, 1979

A month later and I'm back at school in St. Louis.

Steve Goodman, February 17, 1979 Steve Goodman
Graham Chapel, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
February 17, 1979

It's too bad I got the bottom half of this stub instead of the top half. Nevertheless, I wrote Steve's name and the concert date on the back, and this stub is a prized possession. At the time of the concert I didn't know that Steve Goodman had been fighting leukemia since 1969, nor of course that he would lose that battle in just another five years at the all-too-young age of 36. I just knew that I was hooked on his quirky songs such as The Twentieth Century Is Almost Over, and also that Steve wrote City of New Orleans.

This concert was held in the incredibly beautiful Graham Chapel, with its breathtaking stained glass window backdrop.

If there was any one concert I could go back to and re-experience again, this one is it.

Sea Level, March 31, 1979 Sea Level
Graham Chapel, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
March 31, 1979

Sea Level was a rock/blues/jazz band spun out of the Allman Brothers. They were quite popular on my campus, but I don't recall a thing about this concert.

J. Geils Band, April 6, 1979 J. Geils Band
Keil Opera House, St. Louis, MO
April 6, 1979

Can't tell from the ticket, but I'm fairly certain this was held in the opera house side of Keil, not the auditorium side. The building had both back to back, sharing a common backstage area.

I bet this concert was fun. Too bad I don't remember it.

Dixie Dregs Dixie Dregs
Washington University Quadrangle, St. Louis, MO
April 29, 1979

What can be better than a springtime Sunday all-afternoon concert on the college campus? Called "Quadrock Sunday" because it was held in the picturesque campus main quadrangle, it featured a bunch of local bands all afternoon, with the Dixie Dregs as the headliner and show closer late in the afternoon.

Supertramp, May 11, 1979 Supertramp
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
May 11, 1979

Supertramp was big in 1979, and this concert was a lot of fun. Bloody well right.

I think this whole outing was organized by my friend Scott.

I wonder about the date, though. My ticket stub clearly shows "5/11", but I found this concert program that says it was a week later on May 18. Was it originally scheduled for May 11 but postponed for a week for some reason?

Jorma Kaukonen, July 14, 1979 Jorma Kaukonen
Convention Hall, Asbury Park, NJ
July 14, 1979

There were both acoustic and electric sets, but no Jack on bass (at least according to

Me, Scott, and Mark? Anyone else?

Jethro Tull, November 8, 1979 Jethro Tull
The Checkerdome, St. Louis, MO
November 8, 1979

Back in St. Louis and yet another Tull show.

Jorma Kaukonen Jorma Kaukonen
Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ
November 24, 1979

Back home for Thanksgiving.

Interestingly enough, this show isn't listed in Maybe that's because this was when Jorma was playing with a band called White Gland, and the music was more punk than anything else. I remember that Mark and I were horribly disappointed in this show. We came to hear Jorma and Hot Tuna material, but they played what can only be described as weird punk. This concert is a solid contender for my bottom-of-the-barrel list.

Grateful Dead, December 9, 1979 Grateful Dead
Keil Auditorium, St. Louis, MO
December 9, 1979

As I began the year, so I ended it. First with the Sunday night show in St. Louis, and then...

Grateful Dead, December 10, 1979 Grateful Dead
Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KS
December 10, 1979

...the Monday night show in Kansas City.

I distinctly remember this particular show, both for the 250-mile drive (each way) across Missouri and back just for the show, as well as for the show itself. The second set, in particular, was rockin' (Scarlet > Fire, Easy To Love You > Let It Grow > He's Gone > Truckin > Drumz > Wharf Rat > Johnny B. Goode E: U. S. Blues) and the crowd went nuts for a long, long time after the band left the stage.

While a 500-mile round trip drive (in my 1970 Chevy Impala) to see one concert might seem excessive, it will turn out to be nowhere near my single-concert drive record, although all of my distance records will turn out to be for the Dead.

So there is 1979, starting and ending with a pair of Grateful Dead shows - and setting the tone for the next ten or twelve years.

On the trivia front, three of those four Dead shows had U.S. Blues encores. What's up with that? I grew to groan at "Useless Blues" encores, wishing for almost anything else!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Project Ticket Stub - 1978

1978. Jimmy Carter is in the White House. New England gets hit with "the blizzard of '78". Boston's year only gets worse when Bucky Dent's home run crushes the Red Sox, and the Yankees go on to win the World Series for the second year in a row. Garfield is a brand new comic strip. Lee Iacocca is fired from Ford. Muhammad Ali beats Leon Spinks.

And I saw these five concerts...

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, February 7, 1978 Emerson, Lake, & Palmer
Jadwin Gym, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
February 7, 1978
Notice that my ticket stub isn't ripped. As I recall, the scene outside the Jadwin Gym that night was chaos. It snowed that day, and that might have had something to do with it. But the doors didn't open until close to show time, and I'm pretty sure the crowed just overwhelmed the ticket takers (who, in all likelihood, were just student volunteers). By the time my friend, Scott, and I got to the doors, well, we just walked right in. Actually, I walked right in. Scott was on crutches with a broken foot or something, so he sort of hobbled right in.

As for the show itself, I don't recall much other than I think ELP was already playing by the time we got inside. And that it was loud. And dark. And I'm pretty sure we never found anything resembling our seats.

Meatloaf, May 13, 1978 Meat Loaf
Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ
May 13, 1978

Meat Loaf was enormously popular in 1978, riding the Bat out of Hell wave. This concert was immense fun, and is a serious contender for my top 10 list. The show was high energy from start to finish, and Meat Loaf didn't leave anything behind. I remember watching him taking hits from an oxygen tank on the side of the stage between songs!

The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones
J.F.K. Stadium, Philadelphia, PA
June 17, 1978

It doesn't get much better than this on the pure fun scale. Summer after graduating high school and an outdoor Rolling Stones concert. Didn't we watch some guy scale (or attempt to scale) the outside of the stadium that day? Fun in the pre-show parking lot.

Note the noon start time on the ticket stub! I have no idea what time the show really started. Nor, sadly, do I really recall anything else about the concert - other than that guy climbing the outside of the stadium before the show.

Yes, September 28, 1978 Yes
The Checkerdome, St. Louis, MO
September 28, 1978

Note the shift to the mid-west along with my move to attending college at Washington University in St. Louis. This was just 4 or so weeks after I arrived in St. Louis. I wonder who I went to this show with?

Jethro Tull, October 19, 1978 Jethro Tull
The Checkerdome, St. Louis, MO
October 19, 1978

I was still really into Tull at this point, although that was about to change in a big way. But you will have to wait until 1979 to learn how and why...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The First Ten (or, Project Ticket Stub Begins)

I have saved all of my concert ticket stubs since the very first concert I attended. I fell into an easy habit of putting my used concert stubs in an envelope. Over the years that grew to two, three, four envelopes stuffed full of stubs in rough chronological order.

Every once in a while I browse through the envelopes, having a stroll down memory lane (or, sadly, a stroll down memory-loss lane). For a while now I have thought that it would be pretty cool to see what I could do with scanned images of all of the stubs. Today I was deciding what to do: I could go out and chip away at some ice in the driveway. Or I could clean up the chaos in the basement. Or I could clean up the stacks of crap in the computer room. Or, I know, I could fire up the scanner and get Project Ticket Stub off the ground!

Without further ado, my first ten concerts...

Jethro Tull, February 26, 1975 Jethro Tull
February 26, 1975
The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

As I recall, a high school friend, Rickey Remes, invited me to this concert. I remember a bus ride to Philly, and think that the entire outing was organized by the local JCC (Jewish Community Center). Hard to imagine that today!

This concert certainly made an impression on my young mind! I remember we had really good floor seats, and I remember the vast spectacle of it all - Ian Anderson was certainly into production and theatrics at this time.

Note the $7.50 ticket price!

Led Zeppelin, June 6, 1977 Led Zeppelin
June 6, 1977
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

A long two years between concerts #1 and #2, but holy cow, what a concert experience for #2! You don't get much better than Led Zeppelin in Madison Square Garden in the mid-70s.

Note that it cost a whole $9.50 to see Zeppelin!

James Taylor, July 5, 1977 James Taylor
July 5, 1977
Garden State Arts Center, Homdel, NJ

A month later, and now for something completely different! Sweet Baby James in an outdoor amphitheater. That's about as far from Zeppelin at MSG as you can get.

Yes, August 3, 1977 Yes
August 3, 1977
The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

The first of way too many shows of which I don't have a whole lot of recollections, I'm afraid.

Jackson Browne, September 6, 1977 Jackson Browne
September 6, 1977
Garden State Arts Center, Homdel, NJ

This was Jackson's tour in support of The Pretender, arguably his breakthrough and best album of his career.

Queen, November 23, 1977 Queen
November 23, 1977
The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

"We will, we will, ROCK YOU!" And indeed, they did!

Jethro Tull, November 30, 1977 Jethro Tull
November 30, 1977
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

I'm pretty sure this is the concert where Livingston Taylor (James' brother) was booked as the opening act. What in the world were the concert promoters thinking? It was horrifying. Livingston was introduced and walked on stage with his acoustic guitar. He started to sing The Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends." He didn't get out much more than the first line ("What would you think if I sang out of tune...") before the crowd was drowning him out with booing. He stopped. He waited. And waited. And waited. But the booing continued. After what seemed like a very long time, he held up both arms in a gesture for the crowd to stop. When the noise died down, he leaned into the microphone and said "Thank you and good night" and left the stage. The crowd was stunned. And so we sat there for an hour waiting for Jethro Tull to take the stage. Stupid crowds.

Many years later I almost asked Livingston if he remembered that show, but I didn't have the heart.

Jethro Tull, December 12, 1977 Jethro Tull
December 5, 1977
The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

Yet another Tull show.

Billy Joel, December 11, 1977 Billy Joel
December 11, 1977
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY

To this day this concert remains as one of my best all-around concert experiences ever. I'm certain it places in my top-ten concert list. Billy Joel is the entertainer, and he was in prime form in late 1977. He was touring for the highly popular album, The Stranger, and the New York crowd simply adored him. He had us in the palm of his hand the entire concert. And rightfully so.

This concert was broadcast live by WNEW-FM, and excellent FM recordings of it are widely circulated.

Utopia, December 29, 1977 Todd Rundgren and Utopia
December 29, 1977
Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ

Hmmmm, my first time seeing Todd, and my first concert at the legendary Capitol Theater. But no memories. :-(

There you have it -- the first ten! Jethro Tull (3 times!), Led Zeppelin, James Taylor, Yes, Jackson Browne, Queen, Billy Joel, and Todd Rundgren. Great start, and a whole lot more yet to come.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Pandora Radio!

I just discovered Pandora Radio via a recent Rocketboom post in which Joanne interviews Tim Westergren, Pandora's Chief Strategy Officer and Founder.

The heart of Pandora is the Music Genome Project, a vast and ever growing taxonomy of musical information started back in 2000. They analyze songs according to nearly 400 attributes on aspects such as melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, and lyrics.

Pandora then lets you stream and explore music. I started by giving Pandora a list of seed artists that Patti and I like, and Pandora took it from there - playing those artists, plus other artists and songs that are related via the Music Genome Project taxonomy. In just a couple of days Patti and I are already hooked - hooked enough to pay the $36 annual subscription to have Pandora advertising free.

There's a social networking and sharing aspect to Pandora too, and I've already bookmarked the Folk Holidays and Contemporary Folk shared music streams. And there's lots more to explore too. Like I said, I'm hooked - and excited.

The only complaint I might have so far is that Pandora's web UI is killing my "music PC", which is a 6 year old Pentium 4 with 1 GB of RAM running Windows 2000. Pandora is pegging the CPU on that old machine, and I can only assume it is due to its very nice, very slick, very modern Ajax web user interface, not the music streaming.

Oh, and if you are curious, the artists we seeded our Pandora stream with are Bruce Cockburn, David Bromberg, Diana Krall, Eliza Gilkyson, Lucy Kaplansky, Natalie Merchant, Ollabelle, Richard Shindell, Susan Werner, and Tish Hinojosa. I'm sure I'll add more, but those were no-brainers.