Reading Paul Cantin's blog about the best shows he's seen got my mind a'brimmin. This "Top 3" would be totally different if I wrote it tomorrow (maybe I'll list three more tomorrow), but for now here are my favorite shows I've ever seen:

Sam Beam at Neumo's in Seattle. It was a few years back - maybe 2005. I'm bad with dates. I thought Iron and Wine was a dumb name for a band, but my sister had long been insisting I check him out. I wandered in about halfway into his set and was sold almost immediately. Not just because I was wrong to judge the guy based on his dumb band name, but also because he was making the kind of music that's barely a half-step up from silence. It was the kind you had to shut your mouth and maybe even your eyes in order to hear. I've come to love seeing the full band for other reasons, but that show with Beam by himself was fantastic.

Arlo Guthrie at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in 2002. It was the summer after 9/11 and so many of us were still coming down from the swirl of missing persons posters, that smell we'll never forget, and every other way the city slogged through that first year. It was a particularly rainy weekend in the old location - I think there had even been a tornado in the area the night before the festival started. But that night that Arlo played was clear. I laid back in the grass and looked at the stars while the dark hill full of tens of thousands of people sang along with every verse of "This Land is Your Land." That may be my favorite live music moment ever.

Cassandra Wilson at JazzFest 2003. I just love her. I'd wanted to see her perform for a very long time and JazzFest was the perfect place. Her voice is incredible, but seeing it come out of her live was extraordinary.

There are a handful of others that stand out in my memory:

Patty Griffin at the Moore Theater in Seattle right after Children Running Through came out. It was raining so hard that night and I remember she closed the show solo on the piano with "Burgundy Shoes." I also remember her saying she wrote "Heavenly Day", which has become one of my favorite songs in the world, for her dog.
Rocky Mt. Folks Fest '06 was full of stellar sets - Jeff Tweedy solo, Kristofferson, Guy Clark.
Mountain Heart at the '07 IBMA conference in someone's suite.
Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf in New Orleans.
Bob Dylan at JazzFest...

What are yours?

Tags: alternative, americana, and, arlo, bob, case, concerts, country, dylan, forum, More…guthrie, iron, lucinda, music, neko, williams, wine

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I decided to go for the most interactive shows I ever attended...

The Beat Farmers at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern ... to make a long story a little shorter I was stood upon by Country Dick Montana (RIP) during his performance of "California Kid" ... he ground one boot into my shoulder as he spilled beer onto me ... he eventually left and performed the rest of the song using other people and furniture as props. I went to see them the next time they came through town ... CD had someone else piggy back him over to the bar for a shot of something (tequila?) ... at the end of that show he handed me his microphone ... a roadie who was following him took it away from me immediately after.

The Bottle Rockets (also at the Horseshoe, I think) ... first band I had ever experienced who had no space between their songs ... they went straight into the next song without waiting for applause ... well into the show, leader Brian Henneman announced that it was time for him to go crowd surfing but that he was too old and fat for that so instead he sent his Gibson guitar ... he feigned anguish as it was carefully passed around the bar and when it came back to him he played a blistering solo.

Alejandro Escovedo ... forget where ... somewhere in Toronto's west end ... upstairs ... I was feeling awful but determined to go to the show anyway ... there were no seats and I somehow ended up practically in one of the band's monitors or speakers ... when they opened with "Guilty" I realized this was a unique experience (that might not be good for my ear drums) ... there were people seated on the floor ... Alejandro told them to stand up ("This isn't a Melanie concert!") ... Eric Heywood was in the band on pedal steel ... the band included a cello, a bass, drums, a lead guitar ... can't recall if there was a violin ... they played an unplugged portion ("Shut the fuck up! Or you won't be able to hear us!" bellowed Alejandro from amidst the audience ... I think Heywood played a dobro for these songs ... I survived and still have most of my hearing intact.

Also saw the Beatles (once), the Stones (twice ... both times with Brian Jones), Dylan with the Band, Wilco, Son Volt, Jayhawks, Tom Russell, Kelly Willis and many, many more but those three were some of the most memorable for me.
One very special show ... a freebie no less ... was Joe Henry with most of the Jayhawks (Mark Olson was not there though was still part of the band) plus Razz Russell on fiddle, banjo, etc ... they played all the songs from Short Man's Room ... JH played a couple of songs from the earlier Shuffletown just with Russell ... towards the end of the show JH said that he figured some of us were there to see the Jayhawks so they played something from the as yet unreleased Hollywood Town Hall. I saw the Jayhawks (with Olson) a few months later ... also a good show but without the immediacy of the small club feel (the club was the El Mocambo where the Rolling Stones once played a secret show).
wow... hard to break it down... so many favorites!

Flaming Lips @ Sunshine Theater in ABQ., NM : hard to believe they were so frickin' amzing!

Loretta Lynn @ Bumbershoot in Seattle, WA. : Loretta-fucking-Lynn... need I say more?

Lucinda Williams @ the Paramount (r.i.p.) in Santa Fe, NM : she sang all my favorites!

Neko Case (every. single. time.)

i could go on forever, these are the top 4 for today.

other delightful faves:

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
the Shins
Drive-by Truckers (Patterson dedicated 'Birmingham' to me once!)
Old 97's and Rhett solo, too!
Steve Miller
Dave Alvin
Oh man...when was Loretta Lynn at Bumbershoot? Must've been before I moved here. Jealous!
it was august of 2001... she was sooo great!

neko, old 97's, built to spill~ it was an amazing time!
Think of 15 concerts that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the concerts that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world. When you finish, tag 15 others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good. Tag, you're it!

The challenge: do this in fifteen minutes; as if nobody is judging your answers...

15 concerts that had such a profound effect on me, and changed parts of my life.

1. Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult @ the Richfield Coliseum, 1980. This was the first real rock concert I ever went to. I was thirteen years old. I sat right in front of the speakers and my ears rang for weeks. Ronnie James Dio is, and was, really short. He kept making a cross out of the pieces of his mic stand. That night was the first time I ever did a bong-hit. The intense volume, sensory overload and the drugs, made it pretty crazy. To top it off, Jeff Allen got nabbed by security for carrying a knife in his boot on the way out of the show. To this day, I’m not sure why he had a knife in his boot? No wonder I love rock & roll.

2. Van Halen at the Richfield Coliseum, 1984. I loved VH from day one. My family always seemed to be on summer vacation when VH came to town. Finally I got to see them on the 1984 tour. I figured out around that time that the tickets from Ticketron looked the same once they were ripped for whatever show you were at, so I always carried a prime floor seat stub from another show so that I could get down front at every show I went to. Once the band started playing, everyone was out of their seats and I was set. It ruled!!!! Love VH “non-ironically” to this day.

3) The Clash (Akron Civic Theater- August 1982, Kent State- October 1982). My brother Jake got me into the Clash early on. I loved the first two records and jumped at the chance to go see them in 1982 when they played some early dates on the London Calling tour in Ohio. Kurtis Blow opened the show. First live Hip Hop show I ever saw. Kurtis wore a white tux and tails and rapped at the crowd. They had no idea what the fuck was happening. This was the glory years for the Clash. They opened with London Calling and just kept going. I was one of the kids that made a mad rush from the balcony to the orchestra pit in front of the stage. It was truly one of the best shows I have ever seen period! I got to meet Joe Strummer in 2001 shortly before he died when he played EMP. He was just as killer as you would imagine he would be.

4) Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Squirrel Bait @ Peabody’s Down Under, 1986. Mind blowing show. It was my first time seeing Sonic Youth and it was amazing. They kept their guitars in a garbage can in the center of the stage. I realized later that they were all tuned differently. Kim Gordon played this giant Ovation bass. One song flowed into the next. It really changed my idea about music. Squirrel Bait ended up staying at my parents house that night and they could not stop talking about Pere Ubu. A seminal show in my musical development.

5) Fresh Festival: RUN DMC, Fatboys, Whodini, 1984 Went to the matinee of this show w/ Mel Arnwine. We loved RUN DMC and were also excited to see the Fatboys and Whodini. RUN DMC was great; although I was a little disappointed they did not have a real band. I did not completely understand live hip hop and that point. This was a real coming out tour for Hip Hop. I feel very lucky that I ended up seeing it. It’s like that, and that’s the way it is.

6) Public Enemy @ EMP 2001. I booked PE at EMP for our first anniversary. The whole group came including Professor Griff. They also brought a backing band called 7th Octave from Detroit. It was crushing! I was so into PE’s first 3 records but I had never seen them live. You never know what’s going to happen when you book a one-off show with a band that is not on tour. Sometimes they are rusty and sometimes they’re filled with pent up energy that can’t be stopped. PE owned the room that night. After the show I paid them in cash as demanded by Walter their manager. That was a lot of cash…

7) Green Day @ the Crocodile Café, 1993. My band Alcohol Funnycar opened for Green Day when they came to Seattle on the Kerplunk tour. They were great live and you could tell that they were going to keep getting bigger. I had no idea it would go as wide as it did.

8) Flaming Lips @ the Showbox on the Soft Bulletin Tour. I have always like the Flaming Lips. My college band opened for them once in the late 80’s in Dayton, Ohio (their small light show kept blowing the clubs circuits and they resorted to playing REM covers the rest of the night). I was on a trip in NYC when I bought the Soft Bulletin. I made an immediate connection with that record. I sat in my room in soho and listened to is over and over again. I was unsure how they were going to try and pull it off live. It is definitely one of the best shows I have ever seen. I was completely transfixed. I’m amazed how often I think about some of the visuals in the show. In particular, there was flight test footage of a plane crashing that I seem to think about whenever I fly. Thanks guys!

9) AC/DC @ the Richfield Coliseum. Kick off of the For Those About to Rock tour. AC/DC is a constant. They do what they do better than anyone else in the world. They sounded just like their records but uglier. Highlight of the night was I touched Angus when he went out into the crowd. The cannons were unbelievably loud, and when Brian Johnson hit the bell to start the show, it was real and not a sample. I saw their last tour a few months back. They still are pretty good, but they were untouchable back then.

10) Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers @ the Richfield Coliseum 1981. I saw Tom Petty several times in the Damn the Torpedoes/ Hard Promises era. TP&THB were so good, so natural, and so believable live as a band. They looked right, played really cool Rickenbacker guitars and Vox amps and simply rocked! I kind of lost the plot after Long After Dark but in those few years, they ruled my world!

11) Joan Jett and the Blackhearts @ the Cleveland Music Hall. I really loved the I Love Rock and Roll album when it came out. Somehow I managed to get front row seats for this show (thanks Belkin Concert Club). Band was killer. Joan and the Blackhearts were like comic book characters come to life. I pumped my fists and shouted every word when they played. Saw her a few more times open for the Police, but it was never as good. I did book her in 2001 and she was great!

12) U2 @ the Cleveland Music Hall 1983. Again, my brother Jake turned me on to U2 early when he got a copy of Boy. I instantly connected with it. It sounded fresh and unlike anything I had heard before. U2 had live energy live like I had never seen before. We all sort of take U2 for granted now, but in that era, they were at the top of their game. WAR was the last album I really loved. I stayed with them through the Unforgettable Fire but by the time the Joshua Tree came out, I was in college and headed into more underground music. I’ve been lucky enough over the years to meet a lot of my childhood musical heroes. I met the whole band, their families and Paul McGuiness in 2001 when they came to see EMP. In those situations, I try to remind myself of how the teenage version of me would have absolutely freaked out to meet U2 back then. Evan as an adult, it was pretty cool.

13) Fugazi, Beat Happening @ the Lake City Theater, 1990. Back in 1990 it felt like a cross-country trek to leave Capitol Hill and drive out to the Lake City Theater to see Fugazi. I was working at Hot Lipps Pizza and one of the other cooks Alan Deem turned me on to Fugazi. He told me about seeing them at the Washington Hall a few months prior and how they had blown him away. It was one of the first shows after I arrived in Seattle that felt like everyone from the music scene was there. Lori Lefavor called me a few times to do security for the show, but I passed each time because I knew what a headache it would be. I have to admit, I did not “get” Beat Happening. It was the first time I saw them and I did not fully understand what they were doing. The crowd berated them and when Fugazi hit the stage, Ian told the crowd that “Beat Happening was more punk than any of them would ever be.” In hindsight, I agree. The show was pure chaos and I loved every minute of it.

14) Billy Squire, Def Leppard @ the Richfield Coliseum, 1983. What can I say, I loved the metal. All of my friends were into Def Leppard from day from their first record on. They played one of their first shows at the World Series of Rock in Cleveland in 1980. Our teenage band covered songs off of their first two albums. By the time Pyromania came out, we were ready and primed. I understand today how these things happen but as a teenager, I could not understand why Def Leppard would be opening for Billy Squire? Like many tours, they are booked months in advance and what seemed like a good opportunity for Def Leppard before Pyromania came out was a bummer after it blew up. They really should have switched the bill around. The “Lep” played a killer 45 minute opening set. You could tell most of the crowd was there for them. Afterwards, Billy Squire came on and played a pretty good show, but people had lost interest.

15) The Gits (too many times to count) I probably saw as many Gits shows as one could see over the years. From their time forming at Antioch College to the numerous shows in Seattle. Granted, I am extremely biased because they were friends of mine, but they came together to create the perfect storm of sonic power and heartfelt emotion. Their records never fully realized what they delivered live. To this day I think Mia Zapata was not only an amazing singer but a remarkable lyricist and that the songwriting collaboration between Andy Kellser and Mia was remarkable. The Gits were truly an example of the whole being larger than the individual parts. Their combination of humor, passion and determination influenced my life in ways I can’t fully explain.
Hi Ben- Thanks for posting this here! After I saw it on Face Book I figured it would tie right in with this conversation. My first concert was Lover Boy and Billy Squire but Def Leopard was one of the records that I was going to put on the list of 5 records that changed my life (it's a long story) so I would have rather seen the show that you did.
Here goes...

Split Lip Rayfield at the Tractor Tavern circa 2006 - Speedmetal mandolin, gas tank bass, Scruggs-style banjo, and lightning fast acoustic guitar playing. This was the last time SLR came to Seattle before Kirk Rundstrom passed away. It was amazing. They know their instruments probably better than any band I've ever heard or seen.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Paramount Theater circa 2002 - Nick Cave is what I think all young punk rockers should evolve into. Dark, passionate, melodic, symphonic, and classy.

The Pixies at Bumbershoot circa 2004 - I was in that stage right between buzzed and drunk, so it may not have been as amazing as I thought, but it will live forever in my mind as the closest thing to heaven there ever will be...minus all the 16 year old kids that showed up to hear "Where is My Mind".
Just as a reference my very first concert was Tower of Power with Dr. John and some new band called The Doobie Brothers opening for them. Also, I'm a lousy critic, I love almost concert I go to see.

Very best concert ever for me was Little Feat opening for The Beach Boys back in 1974 in Fresno's Selland Arena. Danced, clapped and screamed myself horse.

Buddy and Julie Miller at The Roxy in 2002 was a great show with all their old L.A. friends there and all their Nashville buds in town for the Grammys, it was like a house party with the best band you could ever hope for.

I loved Neil Young and Crazy Horse and their Greendale set at The Shoreline, extra bonus points for Lucinda and her boys opening the show.

I've still got most of my old concert ticket stubs Emmylou Harris and The Hot Band $8.50! The Who and The Grateful Dead $12.50! Chuck Prophet and The Mission Express $15.00!
Too many.....but I'll pick three for ya:

Summertime 1964: Steel Pier:Atlantic City, NJ: Little Stevie Wonder...I still can hear the roar of the crowd when Stevie pulled out the harmonica for Fingertips...everybody say yeah. And the Count Basie Orchestra was booked into the ballroom at the other end of the pier.

May 1, 1965: Convention Hall Philadelphia: WIBG-AM Presents Herman Hermits...opening for them are the Rolling Stones and there are also about 20 other acts. Most I have forgotten, but my favorite all-time girl group was there:Reparata and the Delrons.

August 1, 1971: Madison Square Garden: Concert for Bangladesh: Two out of four Beatles can't be bad, but Dylan was electrifying. And when Billy Preston did "That's The Way God Planned It" the air was sucked out of 20,000 people.

This would be more than three..but what the heck. Big Brother and the Holding Company, Chambers Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, Moby Grape, Vanilla Fudge, Freddie and the Dreamers, Lovin Spoonful, Dylan with The Band, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton at a shopping center, Sinatra at The Sands, Bowie playing sax for Mott the Hoople, Cheap Trick at a private party for less than a hundred people, Zappa, The Association, Poco, Delaney and Bonnie, Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Traffic, Patti Smith, Beach Boys WITH Brian, Dennis, Carl, Mike and Al all together, Jackie Mason...he kills me, and about a hundred Dead shows but who can remember them all?
In no particular order off the top of my head....

1. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Either late 1973 or early 1974. He was touring in support of the 2nd album (& E-Street Band). Largely unknown outside of the northeast. In Dallas, Texas at a small club called "Gerties" on Lemmon Avenue. Sunday night, about 30 people in attendance. Bruce & band rocked in that small club like it was madison square garden. I had a nice chat with the bass player at the bar during the set break. They had just played the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin a day or so before and liked the cowboy/hippie vibe in Austin. I think a year later he made the cover of Time magazine (the future of rock & roll).

2. Los Lobos. 11/01/92. Gainesville, Florida - a small downtown venue called "The Florida Theatre" Not sure why there was almost no turnout, but the 25 or fewer people there were all sitting around back toward the bar and when Los Lobos hit the stage, they simply said, "hey everybody, come on down to the front and lets have some fun." We all assembled in front of the stage. They started with several acoustic traditional songs and then eventually delivered a high energy full electric show. A magical evening.

3. Townes Van Zant. Had to have been late 1994 or early 1995. The Bottom Line in NYC. I think he died about a year later, and at that time his shows were notorious for being potentially bad due to the condition he was in. But this night was pure Townes at his best. A story between every song and an earnest delivery of some of his best work, including new work at that time.

4. Doug Sahm & Band, also late 94 or early 95 and at NYC's Bottom Line. Doug was in rare form and I recall he even had horns with him. Talked about how he'd been headed to play in NYC in late 1960s or early 70s and got busted and everything got cancelled. But now he was back and he said he'd deliver the show he'd planned many years before. I've seen Doug many times over the years (The Soap Creek Saloon in Austin, Tx....on my!), but this was a classic performance. He actually pulled out many of his psychedelic/country groover songs from his early 70s albums that I'd never heard him play live (e.g., "San Francisco FM Blues", "Blue Horizon", etc.). Doug was very friendly and talked to everyone at the bar during the break. He never lost his 60's vibe (everything was groovy and everyone was "that cat" in his conversation....but from Doug it sounded natural). I still think Doug was a national treasure that was not fully appreciated outside of Texas. Although the later incarnation of the Texas Tornados was perfectly good, too many people didn't know Doug's classic work in country, blues, tex-mex, and much more, including his perfect blend of all kinds of music. From his Rock & Roll hall of fame nomination (he's not in yet, but deserves it): "The late Atlantic Records executive and album producer Jerry Wexler inscribed his autobiography Rhythm and the Blues to Sahm in 1993: "To Doug, of all the musicians I've worked with, I have always felt closest to you. And of all of them, you are the most gifted, the most versatile, with a musical ability that never quits."

5. Tim Buckley. At the aforementioned "Gerties" on Lemmon Avenue in Dallas Tx. Must have been early 1974. He was touring behind his "Greetings from LA" album. He simply brought the house down. I still have hundreds of 35mm shots I took of him (sitting at a table right next to the small stage). He was on fire. I believe he died maybe a year later.

6. Michael (Martin) Murphey, Willis Alan Ramsey, B.W. Stevenson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Steve Fromholtz, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and others on a regular basis in about 72-75, Dallas Tx at a great small folky bar called the Rubiyat.
Great list. Good too see someone else with a Dallas/New York City connection.



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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.