Friday, May 6, 2016

The Music Never Stopped

The sun is shining. It's warm enough to take my morning walk in shirt sleeves. I guess everyone knows what that means, right? You betcha! It's concert season. (Actually, in my opinion, anytime is the right time for live music.) Buffalo Harbor Series and Artpark have released their lineups for the summer, and caravans of hippies are hitting the road for the summer. I can't wait.

First up is this weekend when the husband wife team of Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi hit the stage with their band mates at UB. Saturday's show was sold out when I tried to buy tickets, which ended up being a good thing since I am already committed to an event that evening. However, I did get a seat for the show Sunday evening's performance. A bonus is the appearance of Amy Helm & the Handsome Strangers as the opening act. Amy is the daughter of the legendary Levon Helm. If you don't know who Levon is, well, maybe you should stop reading, bring up YouTube, and settle in for some fine music.

Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi
Photo from Wikipedia
 Yes, I know it's Mother's Day, and that I'm leaving my lovely wife behind while I boogie to the tunes. Don't worry, we're all good. I bought her and I tickets to the Tedeschi Trucks Band show in July at Rochester as compensation. We're hoping to make it an overnight excursion for just the two of us. That bill also features North Mississippi All-Stars and Los Lobos. We're sure to burn extra calories that night.

I love music, and if you've been following are columns, George does, too. There's nothing quite like enjoying music, especially live. I have been to hundreds of concerts. That's no exaggeration. I've been going to concerts since 1987/88. I have traveled out of state to see shows, and I have traveled between cities to see the same band on the same tour. There was one summer, right after Wendy and I were married, that we each saw 30 concerts. And, we didn't always go to the same concerts that summer.

My earliest concert that I can remember was a Poison (don't judge, I was young) concert at the old Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo. Tesla was the opening act. While I was a Poison fan (again, don't judge), I had never heard of Tesla. Well' that soon changed. Tesla destroyed Poison that night. It was too bad that they were handcuffed by the time limitations of being an opening act. From there, it has been one, long hard ride from concert to concert.

Eventually, I fell into a rhythm with the music of the Grateful Dead. My first Dead-like show was Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman at Darien Lake in July of 1991. I went back again the next year for another of the "Scaring the Children" shows. I saw my first full Grateful Dead show in 1993 at Rich Stadium. I have seen a Dead show (various incarnations or solo acts) every year since that first Bobby show in 1991. That's a 25 year spread. I can almost retire.

The last show that I attended was like no other show I had been to before. Sure, I've been to single day festivals, but I decided I was going to the Lockn Music Festival in Arrington, Virginia in 2015. Lockn was a 4-day festival, 500 miles from home during the first week of school for my children. (Wendy is a saint, I know.)

Old and new friends at the LOVE sign at Lockn.
I'm in the red shirt and khaki shorts near the middle.
So, I rode along with my buddy, Poof, and a friend of his. We met up with another group of friends at a hole-in-the wall motel about 40 minutes from the festival grounds. We left early so that we could spend the night before the festival began sleeping, rather than driving straight to the festival and missing something. Of course, as fate would have it, Mother Nature decided to throw a curve ball into the festivities. We were still in Pennsylvania, driving through a torrential downpour when our phones started going crazy with news of the cancellation of the first day of Lockn.

A strong thunderstorm had passed over the area, spawning high winds, which severely damaged the area of the festival. The organizers decided (rightly) to cancel the first day of the show, and close the campground until Friday morning. We ended up having to stay in the motel a second night. All this meant that there was one heck of a traffic jam leading into the festival grounds on Friday morning. We missed the opening act of the Doobie Brothers with the String Cheese Incident. Instead, we sat in stalled traffic, hanging with friends and eating snacks. As we got closer to the stage area, we could hear the music even if we could see it.

Rockn at Lockn during Tedeschi Trucks Band
It was a beautiful, sunny, fall day in Virginia when we finally got to our campsite. We were on a small incline with a contingent of friends camping right there with us. We set up our sleeping areas and communal area before setting off to the stage. I had the luxury of sleeping in the back of the truck we rode down in, which ended up being a great place after a huge deluge in the middle of the night soaked all the people in tents.

That first night of the festival was the highlight for me, and probably for most of the people in attendance. Tedeschi Truck Band, backed by members of Joe Cocker's band from the 1970 Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour. It was a very moving tribute to the late rocker. All the special guests brought even more talent and emotion to the performance. I still check it out on YouTube regularly. Instantly, I am back in the drying mud and straw with old and new friends.

The whole weekend was sunup to sundown (and beyond) of music. I swear that Gov't Mule and Umphrey's McGee played nearly all night on the smaller stage. That stage was very close to our campsite, so we could hear them all night as they jammed.
My new friend, Scott, and I at
Lockn during Widespread Panic.

The best part of the festival was not the music, although that was pretty stellar in my opinion. It was the new friends that I made and the laughs that we shared while we spent four or five days with each other. It was a whole new experience that I would love to do again. Maybe there's a festival that's a little closer, or doesn't take place when the kids and Wendy are adjusting to another new school year.

Yes, it's concert season. I will be at as many as I can get to. I hope to see some of you there. I'll be the guy in tie-dye at the Dead show. You can't miss me.

Craig Bacon is always grooving to the music in his head. New concerts will refill that inner jukebox.