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?